At any given moment, thousands of Americans are working around the globe as Peace Corps volunteers. As they go about making the world a better place, they’re also gaining new skills that will make them better people—from adapting to new cultures and dealing with language barriers to leading projects and making do with the slightest of resources. Now, a new partnership between MFA Design for Social Innovation and the Peace Corps will allow returning volunteers to channel those new talents into an SVA education.
The Paul D. Coverdell Fellows Program is a graduate fellowship program that provides financial assistance to Peace Corps volunteers who have completed their service abroad. Of the more than 80 American colleges participating in the program, SVA is the only partner offering a design-based fellowship. One Coverdell Fellow will be selected each year to receive a $20,000 scholarship toward two years of graduate study at SVA.
MFA Design for Social Innovation founder and Chair Cheryl Heller made the connection that the Peace Corps has long practiced the same values that are vital to the department’s mission. The fellowship, she said, “will help Peace Corps volunteers turn those values into careers using design to tackle the most pressing needs of people around the world.”
An integral part of each Coverdell fellow’s education will be public service in an underserved community. Their Peace Corps experience, SVA training and global perspective make them ideally suited for internships at non-profits and government organizations.
When the MFA Design for Social Innovation program launched in 2012, it quickly attracted social innovators from around the world who are committed to becoming creative problem solvers in business and society through design. “SVA has a long tradition of combining advanced design education with fostering social responsibility,” said Provost Jeffrey Nesin. “I couldn’t be happier to welcome Coverdell Fellows to the SVA community.”