The Coca-Cola Foundation awards Notre Dame $250,000 grant

Author: Joya Helmuth

As part of its commitment to provide training and capacity building in the developing world, the University of Notre Dame will welcome 25 African leaders for business and entrepreneurship training this summer. The Coca-Cola Foundation has awarded Notre Dame a $250,000 five-year grant to help implement the program, which builds on a pilot program held at Notre Dame in 2012.


The University of Notre Dame is an institutional partner in the Washington Fellowship Program, the flagship program of President Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative. The training program will be led by the faculty and staff from the University of Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business Nonprofit Executive Education Program, supported by the Notre Dame Initiative for Global Development (NDIGD), the Kellogg Institute for International Studies’ Ford Family Program in Human Development Studies and Solidarity, and the University’s Engineering, Science, Technology and Entrepreneurship Excellence Masters (ESTEEM) program.

Notre Dame aims to bring government resources and corporate commitments together with Notre Dame’s research and teaching expertise toward a common goal of making a positive, relevant impact in the developing world. The Washington Fellowship program is an ideal example of how Notre Dame, IBM, and The Coca-Cola Foundation are educating and training African men and women, who will continue to serve as leaders, entrepreneurs, and mentors upon returning to their home countries.

“NDIGD is helping to grow the University’s collaborations with key corporate partners for training and research programs that will impact developing countries, and we are very pleased to be able to work with The Coca-Cola Foundation and IBM to help train the next generation of African leaders,” says NDIGD Managing Director Michael Sweikar.

The Coca-Cola Foundation is supporting the Washington Fellowship with a particular interest in women. The Coca-Cola Company has made a global commitment to empower women to thrive in business. In 2010, The Coca-Cola Company announced plans to empower 5 million women entrepreneurs by the year 2020. It also launched the Global Women’s Leadership Council, an internal initiative, that works with senior women executives at Coca-Cola to identify strategies to attract and develop women into general management positions.

In addition to The Coca-Cola Foundation’s award, IBM Corporation is assisting the program by providing additional funding and training support. Notre Dame was also awarded $100,000 from the U.S. Department of State earlier this year.

This summer’s U.S. Department of State Washington Fellowship program will provide 500 African Fellows with a U.S. experience that begins with a six-week academic institute at one of several university campuses across the country. A three-day summit in Washington, D.C., will immediately follow the institute program, and up to 100 selected participants will receive an eight-week follow-on internship with an American NGO or business.

In an address introducing the Washington Fellowship Program, President Obama said, “Africa’s future belongs to its young people. We need young Africans who are standing up and making things happen, not only in their own countries but around the world.”

The Washington Fellows’ U.S.-based training is only the beginning of a long-term investment in these young leaders. In Africa, YALI will provide ongoing opportunities for networking, professional development, seed funding for entrepreneurs, and community service. Fellows will have access to enrichment seminars, local and regional networking events, and an innovative on-line platform for future collaborations.

For more information about the Washington Fellowship at Notre Dame, please visit the YALI website.

Contact: Joya Helmuth, NDIGD Outreach Associate,