GLENDALE, Calif.—Vahan and Anoush Chamlian Armenian School students rallied support for expanded Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education funding for Armenia, urging leaders of the U.S. Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) to sign a second compact which would fuel the country’s growing technology sector.
“As students ourselves, we know that education represents the single most positive force for good in the world,” Chamlian students wrote in a letter to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Vice-Chair of MCC. “As Americans of Armenian heritage, we want to strengthen the bonds of faith and friendship between the American and Armenian peoples. As young people, preparing for the economy of tomorrow, we understand that science, technology, engineering and math are the keys to our future. For all these reasons, we encourage you to strengthen the U.S.-Armenia partnership by leading the way toward a new MCC Compact between our two nations.”
“We are grateful to have been able to share this opportunity with our students. In line with our school’s mission and Expected School-wide Learning Results, our students are proud to be active participants in the Armenian Community as leaders and volunteers,” said Chamlian Principal Dr. Talin Kargodorian.
Earlier, students from the Ari Guiragos Minassian Armenian School in Orange County, Calif., put pen to paper, calling on then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to lead the effort to secure a potentially transformative MCC grant for Armenia. The students are part of a growing grassroots movement calling for concrete U.S. assistance programs, which will fuel job growth and expand U.S.-Armenia trade.
Armenia’s first MCC compact, awarded in 2006, focused on rural poverty reduction, with over $176 million expended on irrigation infrastructure refurbishments, accompanied by strategic assistance to the nation’s farmers, agribusinesses and water supply institutions, as well as investments in rural road construction and maintenance.
The Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) has been working closely with House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.) and House Select Committee on Intelligence Ranking Democrat Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) on securing a second $140 million compact focusing on STEM Education for public schools in the Republic of Armenia.
During the ANCA-Western Region’s 2017 Grassroots Conference, Rep. Schiff, who represents the Chamlian Armenian School, explained, “I think it is a fantastic concept for a STEM project in Armenia—that can really develop those technological gifts and talents of the Armenian people—and, can overcome the economic barriers by its neighbors.”
“A second MCC Compact for Armenia with a focus on STEM education represents a high priority for the ANCA—a program which could help build the already growing technology sector in Armenia, by preparing the work-force necessary to help reach its potential,” said the ANCA’s Elizabeth Chouldjian. “We are inspired by the Armenian American student initiative and leadership to help bring this effort to fruition.”
Parallel to discussions with Congress and the Administration, the ANCA has held talks with U.S. universities interested in partnering on an MCC Armenia compact.
The MCC is an independent U.S. foreign aid agency, established by Congress in 2004 and charged with leading the fight against global poverty. Country-specific programs are selected by the MCC board through a competitive selection process, based on its review of a broad range of merit-based governance criteria. Since its launch, MCC provided over $10 billion in grants, including a grant in 2006 to Armenia for rural roads and irrigation.