The MasterCard Foundation

The MasterCard Foundation
EARTH University

April 26, 2012 15:19 ET

The MasterCard Foundation and EARTH University Partner to Create $19.5 Million Scholarship Program

120 Young Leaders Will Benefit from Educational Opportunities in Sustainable Development

TORONTO, ONTARIO and GUACIMO, COSTA RICA--(Marketwire - April 26, 2012) - The MasterCard Foundation and EARTH University announced today a seven-year, USD 19.5 million partnership to provide educational opportunities to young people from disadvantaged communities in Africa, Latin America and The Caribbean. The partnership will offer comprehensive scholarships to 120 students at EARTH University - an international, non-profit university in Costa Rica with an innovative four-year program in sustainable agriculture, natural resource management and community development.

"This scholarship program offers young people the opportunity to be part of EARTH's extraordinary learning environment," said Reeta Roy, President and CEO of The MasterCard Foundation. "They will become leaders who will make significant contributions to agricultural and economic initiatives in their countries."

The MasterCard Foundation Scholars will be engaged in a culture of philanthropy and volunteerism, encouraging them to transition from being beneficiaries to benefactors and active contributors in their communities. The program also integrates complementary supports such as mentoring, career counseling, service learning opportunities and internships. Following successful completion of EARTH University's four-year program, the Scholars will return to their countries to be part of a cohort of new leaders committed to transforming the agricultural sector and contributing to sustainable livelihoods. The partnership is part of The MasterCard Foundation's Youth Learning Program, which works with institutions like EARTH University to enable young people in developing countries - particularly Sub-Saharan Africa - to make successful transitions to the workforce and actively engage with their communities.

"Since our inception we have been committed to giving educational opportunities to young people who want to make a difference, but lack the financial resources for a higher education. To this end, 60 percent of our students receive full scholarships. We could not achieve this, particularly given the tough global economic conditions, without committed partners like The MasterCard Foundation, and hope the alliance inspires others to join our effort to change the world through education," remarked EARTH University President, José Zaglul.

Visit for profiles of The MasterCard Foundation Scholars, student blogs, information about the partnership, and to get involved with EARTH.

EARTH Alumni Contributing to Development Process in Africa

EARTH University has 19 alumni from Africa promoting sustainable agriculture, economic development and entrepreneurship in their home countries.

One alumnus, Kalema Andrew Joseph, returned to his native Uganda in 2004 after graduating from EARTH. He began working with a program called Export Promotion of Organic Products from Africa (EPOPA) as an assistant project leader, developing internal control systems for organic certification and conducting baseline and impact surveys of projects. When the program ended in 2008, Kalema began working with the Louis Bolk Institute and now directs their East African office. He organizes producers into groups, then associations and then links them to local and international markets. He helps farmers build capacity, improve management practices and increase productivity, and links them to financing institutions. In the last seven years, he has worked with five producer associations (each comprised of approximately 650 farmers) that have all managed to export products.

Kalema is also an independent consultant. In 2009, he designed and implemented a successful pilot project, funded by the Progreso Program, to promote the production of bioferments, bokashi, micro-organisms and organic fertilizers among two coffee producing associations and one cocoa association in Uganda.

Since 2005, Kalema has managed his own 5.5 hectare farm where he is growing sustainable pineapple and passion fruit sold locally.

Says Kalema about his experience at EARTH, "EARTH is a one-stop university where you can get innovative ideas for social change. My education at EARTH has enabled me to be successful in Uganda, to be very proactive and hands-on in promoting agricultural development."

About The MasterCard Foundation

The MasterCard Foundation advances microfinance and youth learning to promote financial inclusion and prosperity. Through collaboration with committed partners in 48 countries, The MasterCard Foundation is helping people living in poverty to access opportunities to learn and prosper. An independent, private Foundation based in Toronto, Canada, the Foundation was established through the generosity of MasterCard Worldwide at the time of the company's initial public offering in 2006. For more information, visit

About EARTH University

Since 1990, EARTH University's innovative educational approach has been preparing young people from Latin America, the Caribbean and other regions, including Africa and Asia, to contribute to the sustainable development of their countries and construct a prosperous and just society. EARTH offers a rigorous four-year undergraduate program in agricultural sciences and natural resources management and a prestigious, international faculty, providing a world-class education that emphasizes science and technology, values, ethical entrepreneurship and environmental and social commitment. Students graduate from EARTH with a licenciatura degree in the Agricultural Sciences, which is between a bachelor's and a master's degree of science. For more information, visit

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