IDEAS grant supports CMC’s studies abroad programming

Glenwood Springs Post Independent staff report
Colorado Mountain College students took part in Chile 2018 and 2020: Rivers of Life, a two-week study abroad course utilizing the Pucon Kayak Retreat on the Rio Trancura as a base of operations. Now with the support of a U.S. State Department grant, and through a partnership with the University of La Frontera in Chile, the college is preparing to offer up to a semester or 15 weeks of study abroad experience at the Chilean retreat.

A recent federal grant will help support Colorado Mountain College’s ability to offer study opportunities abroad for disadvantaged students.

Recently, CMC received an IDEAS (Increase and Diversify Education Abroad for U.S. Students) grant from the U.S. Department of State’s Capacity Building Program for U.S. Study Abroad.

The grant is intended to expand the college’s capacity to offer “affordable and meaningful” study-abroad opportunities, especially for low-income, first-generation and other underrepresented students, according to a CMC news release.

CMC is one of 24 colleges and universities from across the United States, selected from 115 applicants, to create, expand and/or diversify American student mobility overseas in support of U.S. foreign policy goals, the release explained.

The $35,000 IDEAS grant is intended to fund the creation of the Pucon Kayak Retreat Cooperative Leadership and Management program, a new CMC study abroad educational opportunity in Chile that is slated to be offered in the 2021-22 academic year. The course offering is dependent on health and travel considerations related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

To further support students, the CMC Foundation also is looking into scholarship opportunities for students interested in studying abroad.

Chilean experience

The new program is centered on the Pucon Kayak Retreat, a world-class outdoor education and recreation business on the Rio Trancura in Chile, according to the CMC release.

Owned and operated by educator and kayaker David Hughes, the retreat previously served as a base of operations for Rivers of Life, a two-week CMC study abroad experience offered in 2018 and earlier this year.

Students will enroll in the new program for either a semester or a full year, focusing on sustainability, business and outdoor leadership skills to complete coursework toward their degrees.

CMC Vice President of Academic Affairs Kathryn Regjo said CMC is now formulating an articulation agreement with the University of La Frontera in Temuco, Chile, to credential faculty who will teach for CMC while in that country. The grant also is supporting an on-site visit by Matt Jost, CMC Steamboat Springs assistant dean of instruction, and plans are in place for two to four faculty to take intensive Spanish-language training.

“CMC is carefully monitoring the status of international travel as it relates to COVID-19,” the release also states. “The grant has a yearlong cycle, though the State Department is prepared to be flexible now and in the future in light of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

‘A strong return’

The CMC grant is possible through the Capacity Building Program for U.S. Study Abroad, a program of the U.S. Department of State with funding provided by the federal government and supported by World Learning, an international nonprofit based in Washington, D.C.

“We are committed to continuing our support for U.S. colleges and universities as they build their study abroad capacity now, in anticipation of a strong return to U.S. student mobility in the future,” Marie Royce, assistant secretary of state for the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, said in the release.

“When American students study abroad, they support critical U.S. foreign policy goals by building relationships with foreign peers, sharing American culture and values, and developing valuable career skills. With these international experiences, the next generation of Americans is being equipped with the skills necessary to compete and succeed globally.”

Visit /study-abroad for more information about all of Colorado Mountain College’s study abroad offerings.