Kanligi Benjamin Kankuubata, a Northwest Community College Initiative (NWCCI) alumnus from Ghana, studied business information technology and accounting at Edmonds Community College (EdCC) in 2011-2012. In 2014, he and a team of State Department alumni were awarded a grant through the Alumni Engagement Innovation Fund (AEIF) for their Techie Skills Training project. Techie Skills is a community service project designed to provide young people in the upper West region of northern Ghana opportunities to develop information and computer technology (ICT) skills. Other important aspects of the project include entrepreneurship training and startup mentoring from players in the technology industry.
The annual AEIF project competition is open to alumni of exchange programs sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA). To participate in AEIF, alumni must join together in teams of five or more participants and propose innovative projects that tackle global issues. Each winning team is eligible to win up to $25,000 to support their project. Out of the nearly 1,100 project ideas submitted, the proposal Benjamin and his team submitted was among 60 that were selected as winners.
We are excited to have Benjamin participate as a special guest in our virtual alumni event, CCI Live: Thinking Like an Entrepreneur, on Saturday, May 16th. He will be joining State Department representative, Sophia Stergiou, who is the Alumni Coordinator for the Western Hemisphere at the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, in a session on how to write a winning grant proposal. All CCI alumni are also invited to participate!
Here Benjamin shares some insight as to how the Techie Training Skills project got off the ground after his experience in the CCI program.
How did you decide to apply for the AEIF grant proposal?
The Techie Skills Training Project already had two training sessions before the 2014 AEIF grant competition was opened. Stephen Saa-ire, a State Department alumni who attended Gadsden State Community College through the CCI program, and I came out with the Techie Skills Training idea after the launch of Generation Change Program in our community, an initiative of the US Embassy Ghana. Realizing the successes of Techie Skill Training and the need for ICT and entrepreneurial skills knowledge among the youth in our community, we decided to apply for the grant. Per the grant requirement, a project team has to be formed, so we invited other State Department alumni members to join the project team. Ten alumni joined us in the crusade for success during the competition, which eventually came.
In implementing the AEIF program, we welcome all interested alumni members in Ghana to take part in the training sessions to share their experiences with the participants. This we believe will have impacted them at the end of the project. We want to sustain the Techie Skills Training after the AEIF implementation ends. By this we encourage anyone interested to share tips with us through the Techie Skills Training Facebook page.
How did the NWCCI program help prepare you to take on this project?
Edmonds Community College has actually helped me in getting to knowing myself more. I went to EdCC knowing little and came out a better person, understanding my world, and realizing that I got more than I could ever imagine.
I studied business information technology at Edmonds CC and came out with a 3.86 GPA, which I’m proud of. This is because I was not only expected to meet a demanding course requirements at college level to keep me in the school as well the NWCCI program, but also to take part in community projects that will afford me the opportunity to share my culture in return for others in fulfillment of the NWCCI program.
The culture of giving back to society is one thing I admired, and I acquired that at Edmonds CC through volunteering. I had regularly volunteered part of my study time to meet up with colleagues especially at the Edmonds Community College Community Garden to work on the garden and network with new friends I made during the sessions. Inwardly I wanted to challenge myself, and the school’s Community Garden was one such place I began to explore which made me happier each time of my participation.
To balance a sort of campus life and gain more understanding of the American culture, I doubled as a volunteer at the Fabric of Life Foundation in Edmonds. I got more perspectives in the business culture long before I even undertook my compulsory internship at Travel4Real LLC in Everett.
For want of a better word, Edmond CC has actually molded me into a better person. Lots of opportunities await every student that goes into the school system, and I still smile in happiness for been very fortunate to have passed through this great college through the NWCCI program. The trick and in fact my advice to current and potential students of Edmonds CC is; don’t just pass through the college but also allow the school system to pass through you. Take total hold of the numerous opportunities at EdCC, especially NWCCI students, because your time is always limited.