Columbia University Libraries Launches Ford International Fellowships Program (IFP) Digital Archive

NEW YORK, May 16, 2016 –

Columbia University Libraries announces the launch of the Ford International Fellowships Program (IFP) Digital Archive. The web portal provides access to the born-digital records of one of the Ford Foundation’s most ambitious efforts. In 2001 the Ford Foundation committed $420 million over 12 years to launch a new kind of fellowship program for social justice leaders from the world’s most vulnerable populations in Asia, Africa, Latin America, the Middle East, and Russia. Geared toward grassroots leaders and social innovators, the IFP was based on an inclusive higher education model that prioritized social commitment over traditional selection criteria. Its underlying assumption was that, given the right tools, socially committed individuals from disadvantaged communities could succeed in postgraduate studies and would advance social change upon returning home. In addition to academic and leadership potential, candidates were selected from groups and communities that lack systematic access to higher education, such as women, indigenous people, and residents of rural areas. Over the course of its ten-year lifespan, the IFP program supported 4,300 fellows. 

“The International Fellowships Program transformed how we think about scholarships as tools for social justice,” said Hilary Pennington, Ford Foundation’s Vice President for Education, Creativity and Free Expression. “The Ford IFP Digital Archive at Columbia ensures that researchers and practitioners worldwide will continue to benefit from this body of knowledge and experience built over many years.”

In 2012, the Ford Foundation transferred its paper and digital archives to Columbia University’s Rare Book & Manuscript Library so that they might be preserved and made accessible to future generations of researchers. The archive is comprised of 450 linear feet of paper files and some 55,000 digital files currently, growing to ca. 90,000 by the end of the project.  They include the records of the New York-based Secretariat as well as those generated by the twenty-two partner offices located throughout the world. According to Sean Quimby, Director of the Rare Book & Manuscript Library, the Ford IFP Archive “documents the conception, implementation, and outcomes of a far-reaching, historic philanthropic initiative.” The Archive will eventually include the data gathered by the Institute of International Education (IIE), which has just released a tracking study of IFP alumni. Soon after placing the archive with Columbia, Ford awarded the university a $1 million grant to develop the infrastructure required to preserve and provide access to historical digital content. The newly launched and publicly accessible Ford IFP Digital Archive is the web portal to much of that content. (Due to privacy considerations not all of the digital archive can be made accessible on the open web.) To consult the complete digital archive and the paper records, researchers must visit the reading room of the Rare Book & Manuscript Library, which is located on the sixth floor of Columbia’s Butler Library and is open to the public.

To encourage critical engagement with the Ford IFP Archive, Columbia has awarded research awards to six scholars from institutions around the world:

•        Tran Nu Mai Thy (Endicott College), A study of IFP Vietnam Alumni

•        Budi Waluyo (Lehigh University), “Measuring National Community Development Returns from International Scholarship Programs”

•        Wim de Jong (Radboud University Nijmegen, Netherlands), “Philanthropy, Community and Democracy. The Ford Foundation’s Domestic and Foreign Education Programs, 1949-2016”

•        Funmi Para-Mallam (National Institute for Policy & Strategic Studies, Nigeria), “Tackling Gender-Based Violence in Select African Countries”

•      Rajendran Thangavelu Govender (Kwazulu-Natal Department of Arts and Culture, South Africa) “From Dark to Enlightened Continent—An Anyalytical Study of the Research of the Ford Foundation IFP Africa Alumni from 2001 to 2013”

•      Nagah Hassan Ismail, “Promoting Social Justice in Egypt:  the Impact of the Ford IFP”

Each award winner will work in both the digital and paper archive during the summer of 2016 and present their findings at a symposium that will be held at Columbia University’s Faculty House on September 8. That event will be free and open to the public. For more information about that event, and about the Ford IFP Digital Archive, please contact Columbia’s Rare Book & Manuscript Library at  


Columbia University Libraries Receives First Installment of $1 Million Grant to Preserve Global Archives of the Ford Foundation International Fellowships Program

NEW YORK, May 23, 2012 –

Columbia University Libraries has received the first of a series of grants from the International Fellowships Fund (IFF) - totaling $1 million over seven years - to serve as the permanent home for the archives of the Ford Foundation International Fellowships Program (IFP).  The collection includes both paper and digital archives and will be available to researchers worldwide.

For a decade, IFP offered fellowships for post-graduate study to emerging leaders from underserved communities in Asia, Africa, Latin America, and Russia. Their work will be completed in 2013 and includes written and audio/visual documentation from 22 partner organizations, records of more than 4,300 IFP fellows who passed through the program, as well as comprehensive planning and administrative files demonstrating the IFP educational model.

The IFP archive at Columbia, to be completed in 2018, will be of invaluable use for researchers and practitioners interested in the progress of social justice, community development, and access to higher education. Access to the paper and electronic archives will be integrated via an online platform, offering researchers a fast and comprehensive way to study the content. This extensive archive will also complement a 10 year, longitudinal IFP tracking study to be conducted by the Institute of International Education (IIE) beginning in July 2013. The study aims to examine the impact of IFP on the lives and career trajectories of its grantees.

"By making the IFP records available for research, we hope that others will be able to analyze and build on our decade-long experience with international education as a critical means to promote development and social justice," said Joan Dassin, Executive Director of IFF.  "We are delighted that the Columbia University Libraries have agreed to preserve and provide access to the IFP records.  These records will complement Columbia's existing collections in international studies and human rights, and we are confident that the Libraries will make our records available to a broad research audience."

"Many of the records of the International Fellowships Program are in electronic, 'born-digital' form, so this project presents an exciting opportunity for us to build out our capacity for supporting the preservation of and access to the increasing amount of digital content to be found in modern archival collections,"  Stephen Davis, Director of the Columbia Libraries Digital Program, said.

With the funds, Columbia University Libraries will develop a full set of repository-based systems and services that will enable the libraries to more easily acquire, ingest, process, preserve and make accessible both paper and born-digital organizational records. The technological infrastructure built for this project will ultimately allow Columbia to act as the central repository for the electronic records of other institutions whose archives are deposited at Columbia.

"Columbia's longstanding academic and collection strengths in public policy and international relations together with its reputation as a leader in the development and implementation of technologies in support of research and learning makes the award and the projects it supports a perfect match," said Michael Ryan, Director of Columbia's Rare Book & Manuscript Library.