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U.S. Department of the Interior - Office of Insular Affairs
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Junior Statement Foundation Announces Interior Grant

Insular Affairs grant provides summer program scholarships to high school students in insular areas

November 09, 2009
For more information:
Contact: Karen Prosser

Washington, D.C. – On November 9, 2009, Interior's Assistant Secretary for Insular Areas, Tony Babauta signed a technical assistance grant in the amount of $236,100 for Junior Statesmen Foundation (JSF) scholarships for twenty-four high school students from the insular areas to attend the 2010 Junior Statesmen Summer Schools.

"We are delighted that our partnership with the Department of the Interior, Office of Insular Affairs, Technical Assistance Grant has been renewed," said Junior Statesmen Chief Executive Officer, Dave Viotti.  "I attended Junior Statesmen Summer School as a scholarship student and I know from personal experience the powerful impact this program has on young people."

Viotti went on to say, "The Junior Statesmen Foundation is very grateful to the Office of Insular Affairs and to Assistant Secretary Babauta in particular, for their long time commitment to educating and training each generation of insular students for active and effective participation in civic affairs."

"We are pleased to be able to offer these scholarships for our youth from the Insular Areas," said Tony Babauta.  "We are also very pleased that JSF has been able to leverage this assistance to increase the numbers of students actually participating from these islands."

Two thousand and ten will be the 20th year that the Junior Statesmen Foundation has worked in partnership with the Office of Insular Affairs to identify, educate and train outstanding insular-area high school students for active, effective and ethical participation in public affairs.

Interior Department grants cover the cost of each scholarship winner's Summer School tuition (including room and board on the host University campus and all related costs, as well as transportation to and from the university).

The Junior Statesmen Summer School is conducted on Georgetown, Princeton and Stanford Universities.

At the month-long Summer Schools, students take a Political Science college level course, along with high level instruction in debate and leadership.

Six insular areas will participate in the 2010 Scholarship Program:  American Samoa, the Northern Mariana Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, Guam, Palau and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The Interior Department grant also funds Academic Prep Programs in colleges in American Samoa, the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, Palau and the U.S. Virgin Islands to help prepare their students for their Summer School experience.

From its founding 75 years ago, the Junior Statesmen program now has nearly 15,000 high school students a year participate in school-year and summer programs, representing all 50 states and 30 countries, including the insular areas.

Over the past 19 years, seventeen hundred (1709) outstanding insular areas high school students have graduated from a Junior Statesmen Summer School.  Of these, 240 truly outstanding students were awarded a Department of the Interior Scholarship.  The others were able to raise scholarship funding from their islands' governments, businesses, and community groups.

The Junior Statesmen mission is to strengthen American democracy by educating and preparing high school students for life-long involvement and responsible leadership in a democratic society.

Department of the Interior/Junior Statesmen Summer School alumni are actively involved in every area of civic and community life in the islands.  Alums can be found in the island legislature in the CNMI, governor's office in American Samoa, among legislative staff members in American Samoa and Guam, and in the St. Thomas government.  In addition, a few are working for the U.S. Congress and federal government agencies.

Junior Statesmen Summer School alum from St. Thomas, the USVI, Marc Stridiron said today, "Fifteen years have passed since I was first introduced to the Junior Statesmen program, but I still consider the experiences at two Junior Statesmen summer Schools -- Yale in 1994 and at Stanford in 1995-- as the best investments I have ever made in my education and personal development.  The academic challenges that I encountered forced me to develop new tools and skills that propelled me to success through high school and my undergraduate studies at Stanford University."

Stridiron went on to say, "The program's emphasis on citizenship led me to pursue careers in the non-profit and public sectors, and the practical leadership experience I gained helped me to succeed in the professional arena as well.  I am eternally grateful to the Department of the Interior and the Junior Statesmen Foundation for making this wonderful opportunity available to me and hundreds of other Virgin Islanders who have also benefited greatly from the experience."

Another alum of The Junior Statesmen Summer School from American Samoa, Petti Matila, had this to say when she learned of the recent grant, "It was intimidating at first for an island girl at the age of 15 to travel far away from home to the Junior Statesmen Summer School.   Experiencing college life first-hand, meeting outstanding students from all across the nation, writing speeches, and participating in Congressional simulations are all wonderful memories of my JSA summer program experience."

Matila went on to say, "Little did I know how my Summer School courses would play a vital role in my future career.  Today, my professional experiences include working as the 2008 American Samoa Intern for U.S. Senator Daniel K. Inouye, and currently I am an Economic Growth Specialist /ARRA Compliance Analyst for the Economic Stimulus & Recovery Office, a division of the American Samoa Governor's Office.  Understand how the JSA summer program was a remarkable academic experience for me, I strongly encourage and challenge our island young people to take on this lifetime opportunity.   Many JSA alumni from American Samoa continue to take leadership roles in local government as well as church and community organizations."

For more information, 602/354-4535.