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Wilson College Pilot Program for Global Study and Service Learning Awarded $25,000 Heinz Endowments Grant

Posted: July 15, 2010

7/15/2010 A model global study/service learning program that will begin with a trip to Costa Rica next summer has been awarded a $25,000 grant from The Heinz Endowments, one of the largest, independent philanthropic organizations in the United States.
DATE: July 15, 2010
CONTACT: Cathy Mentzer, Manager of Media Relations
Phone: 717-264-4141, Ext. 3178

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. – A model global study/service learning program that will begin with a trip to Costa Rica next summer has been awarded a $25,000 grant from The Heinz Endowments, one of the largest, independent philanthropic organizations in the United States.

The pilot phase of a program called “Pathways to Global Learning” will give underrepresented populations of students – including Wilson’s Women with Children participants and their children – an opportunity to travel to Costa Rica and have experiences involving language, culture and that country’s sustainability practices. Costa Rica is considered one of the “greenest” countries and in the world and was the first nation to pledge to become carbon neutral by 2021.

“Receiving this timely and important grant from The Heinz Endowments is a tremendous vote of confidence in Wilson, our commitment to sustainability and our vision for educating future leaders who will also be good stewards of the earth’s resources,” said Dr. Lorna Duphiney Edmundson, president of Wilson College.

Wilson plans to use the Costa Rica pilot program to develop a model for other programs in the college’s Global Citizenship Initiative, which seeks to ensure that members of the college community – students, faculty and staff – develop a deeper knowledge of the wide range of cultural perspectives in the world so that ultimately, they can work effectively as citizen-leaders in today’s global society.

“Cross-cultural experiences can have a profound impact on students’ perspectives. They may shake up the way a student thinks about life or cause a major change in direction,” said Dr. Mary Hendrickson, Wilson vice president for academic affairs. “There are many ways that learning about another culture can change students. Traveling in itself can force a person to be more adaptable and flexible because the new culture may require it.”

Wilson is currently in a fundraising campaign that includes the Global Citizenship Initiative among its priorities.

In addition to Women with Children participants, other students who may not normally be able to study abroad will be eligible for the Costa Rica program, including those with low incomes who may also be first-generation college students, adult students and students from isolated, rural communities.

Those who participate in the program will take two intensive summer courses that will emphasize language, cultural immersion, women’s studies and/or sustainability. The first week will take place on campus, three weeks will take place in Costa Rica and the final week will again be on campus, when students will have an opportunity to share what they learned with other members of the Wilson community and through Internet blogs and other means.

Children who take part will participate in a parallel program geared toward them.

While the students are in Costa Rica, service experiences and a general exploration of the culture will be part of the students’ learning experience.

Wilson College eventually hopes to be able to offer similar trips – at least one a year – for groups of 15 to 20 students.

The Heinz Endowments grant will pay for part of the cost of the inaugural trip. The Heinz Endowments is based in Pittsburgh and according to its website, it uses this region “as a laboratory for the development of solutions to challenges that are national in scope.” The organization awards grants in five areas: arts and culture; children, youth and families; education; environment; and innovation economy.

The Heinz Endowments supports efforts to make southwestern Pennsylvania a premier place to live and work, a center for learning and educational excellence, and a region that embraces diversity and inclusion.


Founded in 1869, Wilson College is a liberal arts college dedicated to the education of women. Affiliated with the Presbyterian Church and located in Chambersburg, Pa. Wilson offers bachelor’s degrees in 30 areas and a master’s degree in education. The college’s 2009-10 enrollment in both the College for Women and the Adult Degree Programs is 838 and includes students from 20 states and 18 foreign countries. Wilson is committed to environmental sustainability and to preparing leaders who will serve their communities and professions effectively.

Last Updated: June 30, 2011