Next Engineers initiative announces inaugural cities

young engineering students building in classroom

The GE Foundation has partnered with FHI 360’s subsidiary FHI Partners to launch Next Engineers — a 10-year global college-readiness initiative designed to increase the diversity of young people in engineering — in four locations: Cincinnati, Ohio; Greenville, South Carolina; Staffordshire, UK; and Johannesburg, South Africa.

“Engineers are critical to building a world that works, but diverse populations are woefully underrepresented in the field,” said Linda Boff, Vice President of GE and President of the GE Foundation. “GE employs thousands of engineers worldwide, and we are committed to providing the resources that will inspire the next generation of engineers and innovators.”

The $100 million program plans to reach more than 85,000 students in 25 cities around the world over the next decade. In each location, community partners will work with engineers from local GE teams to implement the initiative, while FHI 360 will provide training and technical assistance both virtually and in person. FHI 360 has begun to onboard community partners — which include two universities, a career readiness organization and an engineering education organization — in the inaugural cities.

FHI 360 brings the significant domestic and international experience necessary to work in a wide variety of contexts, as well as expertise in education and youth development projects. Its global education programs operate in a range of international contexts, including fragile and post-conflict areas, providing localized solutions to support youth development and growth. For 30 years, it has led the Bridge to Employment program, which builds the college and career readiness skills of disadvantaged high school students and provides STEM education.

“At FHI 360, we believe in a world where young people of all backgrounds can access the education and opportunities they need to realize their dreams,” said Tessie San Martin, Chief Executive Officer of FHI 360. “We know from research that early exposure and encouragement are key to attracting students to careers in engineering. We are thrilled to partner with GE Foundation to inspire the next generation of engineers.”

Through Next Engineers, students ages 13 to 18 will gain hands-on experience with engineering design thinking and career opportunities. To guide students along the path to engineering careers, the initiative will engage youth through three core programs:

  • Discovery (ages 13 to 14) — Youth will learn what engineers do through exploratory activities and demonstrations delivered by GE volunteers.
  • Camp (ages 14 to 15) — Students will spend a week immersed in the engineering process as they work alongside engineering educators and business leaders to complete design challenges inspired by real-world scenarios.
  • Academy (ages 15 to 18) — Future engineers will spend more than 80 hours per year outside of school learning to think like engineers, preparing for higher education and developing critical skills, including design thinking, problem-solving and collaboration. Next Engineers will provide scholarships to students who complete the academy and are accepted into an engineering program at an institution of higher education.

To learn more about how Next Engineers is inspiring the next generation, visit

Photo credit: SDI Productions/Getty Images

FHI Partners commends GE Foundation on its commitment to increase diversity of young people in engineering

female students engineering robotic item

GE Foundation is committing up to $100 million to create the Next Engineers program – a global college-readiness initiative to increase the diversity of young people in engineering. The program will focus on underrepresented students in grades eight to 12 (ages 13 to 18), provide hands-on exposure to engineering concepts and careers, and ultimately award scholarships to pursue engineering degrees. Over the next decade, the goal is to reach more than 85,000 students in approximately 25 cities globally, inspiring the next generation of engineers to build a world that works.

GE Foundation has partnered with FHI 360 through its subsidiary FHI Partners to develop the program framework. GE Foundation previously worked with FHI 360 on a program to remove education barriers for adolescent girls in Kenya and Nigeria.

“Engineers turn ideas into bridges, water pumps and climate-resilient health care facilities,” said Patrick Fine, Chief Executive Officer of FHI 360. “Through our partnership with GE Foundation, we are committed to increasing the number of underrepresented students entering this essential field. We are excited about their future and the role they will play in solving real-world problems.”

“Day in and day out, engineers are changing the world and solving society’s most pressing challenges – from clean energy to quality health care and more sustainable flight,” said Linda Boff, President of GE Foundation. “Next Engineers is designed to inspire and guide underrepresented young people in engineering, each with their unique perspective and diversity of experiences, to become the next generation of global problem solvers.”

The GE Foundation’s Next Engineer’s program has three pillars: Engineering Expo, a career fair or assembly to increase awareness about engineering opportunities; Engineering Camp, a week-long immersive experience to develop engineering identities; and Engineering Academy, a three-year program to guide and encourage students to pursue engineering degrees.

Learn more at and read GE Foundation’s announcement here.

About GE Foundation

GE Foundation, an independent charitable organization funded by GE, is committed to transforming our communities and shaping the diverse workforce of tomorrow by leveraging the power of GE. GE Foundation is developing skills by bringing innovative learning in community health globally and STEM education, scaling what works, and building sustainable solutions. GE Foundation is inspiring others to act by connecting GE people with communities through matching gifts, leading on emerging issues such as the opiate crisis, and convening community leaders to maximize our impact. Learn more at or follow us on Twitter at @GE_Foundation.

About FHI 360 and FHI Partners

FHI 360 is an international nonprofit working to improve the health and well-being of people in the United States and around the world by partnering with governments, the private sector and civil society. Using a 360-degree approach to human development, its team of more than 4,000 professionals work in over 60 countries to help create jobs, educate children, provide lifesaving health care and bring about positive social change. Learn more at or follow us on Twitter @fhi360.

FHI Partners is a wholly owned subsidiary of FHI 360 that uses an agile, client-centered approach to leverage the technical expertise and global platform of FHI 360 to create customized solutions for corporations and foundations seeking to accelerate their social impact. Learn more at or follow us on Twitter @fhipartners.

Photo credit: fstop123/Getty Images

The LEGO Foundation’s grant to research playful parenting awarded to FHI Partners

woman holding baby

Learning through play is an engaging, motivating and transformative process for children. It helps them to develop creativity, imagination, dexterity and physical, cognitive, social and emotional skills. Parents are naturally and uniquely positioned to provide their children with playful learning experiences as a child’s first and lasting playmate. Although initial research shows that playful parenting works, more evidence is needed to understand the relationship between playfulness and parenting and to bring playful parenting programs successfully to scale.

A new partnership with the LEGO Foundation will address this need. The Playful Parenting Implementation Research grant was awarded by the LEGO Foundation in May 2020 to FHI Partners, a subsidiary of FHI 360 that harnesses the organization’s decades-long expertise in evidence-based project implementation research.

Under this five-year award, FHI 360’s experts will work under the LEGO Foundation’s Playful Parenting Initiative in five countries with four leading organizations to produce insights into the implementation and scaling of playful parenting interventions. By studying interventions by Save the Children, Child Fund, The Research Program on Children and Adversity (RPCA) at the Boston College School of Social Work, and UNICEF in Bhutan, Guatemala, Rwanda, Serbia and Zambia, the FHI 360 team has an opportunity to generate critical evidence with global application in the field of learning through play in early childhood development (ECD).

The research will help define what works for scaling effectively and the impact it has on caregivers, service providers and children. FHI 360’s experts will build the knowledge base by embedding a research and learning agenda into five playful parenting programs to weave together key learnings and illuminate pathways to scale.

Dr. Frances Aboud, whose decades of research shapes much of the global dialogue around parenting interventions, is the project’s Co-Principal Investigator. “Very little information is available about scaling parenting programs both horizontally to new regions and vertically throughout the system,” said Dr. Aboud. “Because each implementing team is operating in a different context but with the same effective scaling goal in mind, we have a unique opportunity to integrate across teams and compare their strategies and outcomes.”

As both a research and learning partner to the Playful Parenting Initiative, the FHI 360 team will harmonize data collection efforts across partners to generate evidence that is distilled into concrete learnings for the global playful parenting community.

Ricardo Michel, Managing Director of FHI Partners, said, “This is an exciting opportunity to build a strategic relationship with such a critical player in the ECD ecosystem. As our first engagement with the LEGO Foundation, this partnership is a testament to FHI Partners’ model and mission to leverage all of FHI 360’s technical expertise and programmatic experience to provide creative solutions for corporations and foundations.”

“The earliest moments of learning through play take place within families, and it is important that such experiences are meaningful and engaging for both the parents and children,” explained Sarah Bouchie, Head of Global Programmes with the LEGO Foundation. “Through this investment in research, we will gather insights, document innovations and share these approaches across governments, civil society partners and donors for replication and scaling up to reach more parents and children with learning through play.”

Learn more about our work in implementation science. For additional information about the Playful Parenting Implementation Research project, please contact FHI 360.

Photo credit: Jessica Scranton/FHI 360

Qualcomm and FHI 360 bring innovative mobile app to Senegal’s fisheries industry

An innovative mobile app from the Wireless Solutions for Fisheries in Senegal (WISE) project is changing the economic outlook for thousands in Senegal’s fisheries industry. The app delivers real-time market information, SOS features and early warning alerts, and best practices information, among other features. A collaboration among FHI 360, Qualcomm Wireless Reach, the Senegalese Food Security Commission and Free Senegal, the project has already been implemented in Senegal’s four major fish landing and processing sites, and the government plans to scale to other locales and industries.

The project is nominated for the World Summit on the Information Society Prizes, supported by the United Nations, for the impact it has had on the economic outlook for thousands in Senegal’s fisheries industry.

Learn more about the WISE project. A version of the below feature story originally appeared on FHI 360. Reposted with permission.

Wireless technology boosts Senegal’s fishing industry

In Senegal, where 30 percent of rural households experience food insecurity, fish are a critical source of nutrition, and the fisheries industry provides jobs for more than 600,000 people. Artisanal fishermen catch 90 percent of the fish and sell to wholesale fish markets and small-scale fish processors, who are predominantly women. The industry’s overall economic growth, however, has been hampered by a lack of access to timely wholesale prices, scant knowledge of improved processing techniques, limited financial services, exposure to health risks and poor hygiene at processing sites.

But, an innovative mobile application developed by the Wireless Solutions for Fisheries in Senegal (WISE) project is changing the economic outlook for thousands. A collaboration among FHI 360, Qualcomm® Wireless Reach™, the Senegalese Food Security Commission and Free Senegal, the WISE project enhances the competitive advantage of artisanal fishermen and fish processors.

The app provides:

  • Current market information
  • Ocean and weather forecasts
  • An SOS feature in case of emergency at sea
  • Best practices information via text, audio and video
  • Geofencing to alert fishermen to international borderlines and restricted or danger zones
  • GPS tools for safe navigation to and from fishing spots
  • A “fishnet locator” that enables fishermen to avoid nets cast in the ocean
  • An early warning message system to communicate information about hazards at sea

WISE also partners with local microlending institutions to make affordable loans available to fishermen and fish processors who want to grow their businesses.

The app is available in English, French and Swahili, and is compatible for 3G/4G-enabled Android smartphones with GPS capability. Based on user feedback, the WISE team recently added an artificial intelligence (AI) feature to make the app easier to use. Now, fishermen and fish processors can speak to the app via a “chatbot” and ask questions about the app’s features. The AI chatbot can even understand slang and local terms.

Since its launch in 2014, WISE has been deployed in Senegal’s four major fish landing and processing sites: Dakar, Joal, Mballing and Mbour. Services, however, are available free of charge to anyone with access to smartphones and the internet. The project has also supported more than 200 low-income economic interest groups, serving more than 5,200 fishermen and fish processors by providing smartphones and internet access to enable them use WISE services.

Overall, fish processing capacity has increased tenfold from about 100 kilograms per month to 1,000 kilograms per month. As a result, fishermen increased their income by as much as US$550, or 35 percent, annually.

Demand for the WISE platform is growing as word spreads. The community radio station in Joal has started to broadcast information, such as market prices, from WISE to the broader community. And Free Senegal, one of Senegal’s leading mobile phone providers, will soon launch a program providing smartphones at reduced rates to additional people in the industry.

The national government has taken notice of WISE’s impact. Senegal’s Ministry of Digital Economy and Telecommunications, which guides digital interventions to spur economic growth, is making plans to expand WISE nationwide. The ministry will hold a conference in early 2020 to discuss scale-up pathways.

Award will continue work to advance contraceptive technology innovation

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, NC — FHI Partners, a subsidiary of FHI 360, has been awarded a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to expand and strengthen our portfolio of work under the Contraceptive Technology Innovation (CTI) Initiative. Following an initial award made by the foundation in 2013, this additional four-year investment will support ongoing work to advance the development and evaluation of several new contraceptive leads, with the ultimate goal of expanding access to high quality, affordable and acceptable products for those most in need in low-income countries.

microneedle patch being applied to arm
Photo credit: Gary Meek/Georgia Institute of Technology

The contraceptive technologies that will continue to be supported through the CTI Initiative include a biodegradable microneedle patch, biodegradable implant systems, longer-acting self-injectable contraceptives and a smaller copper intrauterine device. Under the new award, FHI 360 will build upon and strengthen established relationships with current product development partners and continue to facilitate collaboration through global knowledge sharing, including through the CTI Exchange platform.

Currently, an estimated 214 million women in developing countries want to avoid or delay pregnancy but are not using a contraceptive. “Our portfolio of products has tremendous potential to offer new, safe, effective, low-cost, easy to use and appealing contraceptive technologies to women in greatest need around the world,” said Dr. Laneta Dorflinger, Distinguished Scientist at FHI 360 and Director of the CTI Initiative. “We are addressing existing technology gaps by advancing products with attributes that women want but are lacking among current family planning options.”

Work under the CTI Initiative builds on FHI 360’s experience over four decades of research, development and introduction of new contraceptive methods. “A cornerstone of our approach is applying innovative drug delivery platforms that are being explored or used in other therapeutic areas to the field of contraception,” said Dr. Gregory S. Kopf, Director, Research and Development within FHI 360’s CTI Initiative. “Through the Gates-funded project, we collaborate with partners, including product development scientists, universities, pharmaceutical companies, manufacturing groups and service delivery organizations. For example, we have collaborated with the Georgia Institute of Technology on exciting work to evaluate whether microneedle skin patch technology could be used to develop a long-acting contraceptive. We look forward to growing and strengthening this and other collaborations under this new award.”

Several of the approaches being advanced through the CTI Initiative are also supported with funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) and other donors.

For more information about the CTI Initiative, please contact us. Read more about FHI Partners.

FHI 360 welcomes Ricardo Michel, new Managing Director of FHI Partners

DURHAM, NC — FHI 360 announced today that Ricardo Michel, a leader in international development and finance, will oversee the organization’s newest subsidiary, FHI Partners. FHI Partners seeks to add to FHI 360’s ability to scale social impact by providing client-focused services that are customized to meet the specific needs of corporations and foundations.

Ricardo Michel, MBA, CPA Managing Director, FHI PartnersMichel brings more than 25 years of leadership in both the private and public sectors. Prior to joining FHI 360, Michel served as the Executive Vice President of AMEX International, Inc., an international development consulting firm, where he managed strategic business development and operations. Michel previously served as a presidential appointee to the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), where he was responsible for public-private partnerships. In addition to driving the agency’s private-sector engagement efforts, he played an integral role in conceptualizing and launching the U.S. Global Development Lab.

“FHI Partners is an example of how we continue to innovate as an organization by developing new business models that are fit-for-purpose,” said Patrick Fine, Chief Executive Officer of FHI 360. “We are extremely fortunate to have a distinguished and versatile leader like Ricardo join our ranks to oversee FHI Partners and increase our ability to deliver social impact.”

Before USAID, Michel spent several years structuring project finance transactions at the Export-Import Bank of the United States. He also served as a Senior Trade and Investment Advisor for the U.S. African Development Foundation and was instrumental in establishing the foundation’s trade and investment initiative for small and medium enterprises. Michel worked for several years as an investment banker and began his career as a certified public accountant.

“FHI Partners provides an exciting opportunity to create innovative strategic partnerships that focus on shared value – impact that benefits both business and society,” said Michel. “I am eager to build on FHI 360’s prolific work by partnering with new and existing clients to generate even greater social impact through our collective action.”