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Olmsted Foundation continues support of international trips for cadets

February 3, 2021

The University of North Georgia (UNG) has received a $26,000 grant from the Olmsted Foundation that continues its support of international opportunities for cadets from UNG and three historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) in Atlanta.

While the COVID-19 pandemic has restricted travel and limited UNG to just one Olmsted-funded trip since spring 2020, unused funds will remain eligible to be used when restrictions are eased.

"We are appreciative for the trust the Olmsted Foundation has placed in us to provide these international learning opportunities for our cadets and those from HBCUs," said Keith Antonia, associate vice president of military programs and a retired lieutenant colonel. "We look forward to the day when cadets can resume these worthwhile trips."

The Olmsted Foundation, UNG and Georgia State University in November 2018 entered an agreement to provide international opportunities for cadets from Morehouse College, Spelman College, and Clark Atlanta University. Cadets from the three HBCUs participate in Georgia State's ROTC program.

"We've been very proud of our relationship with the University of North Georgia and their outreach program with the schools in Atlanta. Our board is seeking to be resilient in the face of the pandemic," said retired Col. Mark Elfendahl, vice president of the Olmsted Foundation. "We realize travel opportunities have been limited in the last year, but our Board of Directors is confident UNG will continue to produce high-quality opportunities for future officers from UNG and the HBCUs."

The trips give many future military officers their first international experience. These trips, typically one to three weeks in length, take place in non-English-speaking countries for cadets who display outstanding leadership and plan to commission into a combat arms branch in the active-duty Army.

"We appreciate the money earmarked for HBCU students who otherwise may not be able to go overseas while in college," Lt. Col. Donald J. Harris, professor of military science at Georgia State, said. "We hope they can soon see the world and enhance their cultural awareness as they prepare to lead soldiers."

The Olmsted Foundation's latest grant brings its total gifts to UNG to $114,500 over five years.

UNG received a $10,000 grant from the Olmsted Foundation in 2017 and a $20,000 grant in 2018. The 2019 grant, the first to include the money for HBCU cadets, increased to $26,000, and the 2020 total was $32,500. Through the end of 2020, 30 UNG cadets and three HBCU cadets have been part of the overseas immersion opportunities.

Thanks to the Olmsted grant, cadets Ian Bryan, Nick Goodwin, Derek Whitmore, and Garrett Wilson represented UNG in the "Military Ski Patrol" international competition in late February in Poland, the most recent Olmsted-funded opportunity.

"We're very hopeful that UNG and our other partner schools will be able to execute foreign travel for their cadets this year," Elfendahl said. "But even if that's not the case, we want them to have the resources to plan that travel whenever it can be completed."

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