Birzeit University Receives Ford Foundation Grant to Endow Institute of Community and Public Health

Birzeit University is pleased to announce that it has recently received a challenge grant in the amount of US$1 million from the Ford Foundation. This grant is designated towards establishing an endowment for the University's Institute of Community and Public Health. Income from the endowment will provide a perpetual source of support for the Institute, meeting some of the future costs. The endowment is expected to provide an annual operating budget of US$50,000 that is earmarked for research, training and health care programs in the area of reproductive health. The challenge grant will be used by the University to raise matching contributions from other donors.

Established in 1978 and directed by Dr. Rita Giacaman, the Institute has succeeded in tailoring its health research to the emerging needs of the Palestinian society. It works closely with the Ministry of Health and with a variety of non-governmental organizations working in the fields of reproductive health, environmental health, community development and health education. The Institute offers both graduate and undergraduate degrees and several short courses. Reproductive health is the domain of a special unit of the Institute, the Women's Health Unit. The grant comes as a testimony to the long-standing relationship between the Institute, Birzeit University and Ford Foundation built on trust, cooperation and a commitment to the provision of high-quality scientific, academic and community-oriented services.

Birzeit University is the oldest Palestinian institute of higher learning that has graduated some of the most distinguished Palestinian community leaders and professionals in a range of fields. Birzeit has upheld the highest standards in education since its establishment as a school in 1924 and throughout its development into the thriving University it is today. The University offers numerous undergraduate and post-graduate degrees through its five faculties: Arts, Commerce and Economics, Engineering, Sciences, and Graduate Studies. The Graduate Studies Faculty offers post-graduate diplomas and masters degrees in various fields, including Business Administration, Economics, Water Engineering, Gender Law and Development, and Community and Public Health. In addition to its academic programs, the University has a range of institutes, centers and programs like the Institute of Community and Public Health, that develop and support community-oriented programs aim at fostering sustainable development in Palestine. Support for the University comes from numerous Palestinian, Arab and international individuals and institutions that have enabled the University to continuously expand and develop.

The Ford Foundation has awarded Birzeit University grants totaling nearly US$6 million since 1982. Currently, The Foundation funds activities at a number of the University's Institutes and departments, including the Women's Studies Institute, the Law Institute, the National Conservatory of Music, the Development Studies Program, Master's Program in Democracy and Human Rights and the Sociology Department. A recent grant to the University's Office of the Vice President for Administration and Finance supports development of the University's fundraising and endowment development programs.

The Ford Foundation is an independent organization that seeks to reduce poverty and injustice, strengthen democratic values, promote international cooperation and advance human achievement. It works mainly by making grants for research, training and model programs that further these goals. The Foundation has no commercial, religious or governmental affiliations. The American entrepreneurs Henry and Edsel Ford established the Foundation in 1936 to support charitable and educational institutions in the state of Michigan, where they both lived. In 1950 the Foundation moved its headquarters to New York and began to provide grants on a national and international level. The Foundation no longer has any ties to the Ford Motor Company or the Ford family. It is guided instead by an international board of trustees, who rely on an international staff to explore funding possibilities, evaluate grant applications and recommend grants for approval.

Operating from its regional office in Cairo, the Foundation has been making grants in the Middle East and North Africa for roughly half a century. The Foundation's grantmaking in the region currently focuses on Egypt and Palestine and on a number of regional initiatives that benefit Middle East and North Africa as a whole. The Foundation's Cairo office supports work in five main program areas: Human Rights, Community Development, Arts and Culture, Reproductive Health and Governance and International Relations. In the fiscal year beginning October 1, 1999, the Cairo field office provided grants amounting to US$7 million to Palestinian organizations.