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HDFS course aims to address economic and social challenges in the Bahamas
Allison Karpyn (left), associate professor in UD’s department of human development and family sciences, is collaborating with Shaun Ingraham (right), president and CEO, One Eleuthera Foundation

HDFS course aims to address economic and social challenges in the Bahamas

Photo by Liz Adams

Students will conduct intensive program evaluations on UD campus and during a week-long study abroad

Eleuthera is a long, narrow island in the Bahamas archipelago, known for pink sand beaches and big waves. Like many Caribbean islands, it also faces economic and social challenges: high unemployment, poverty, and limited access to nutritious food and affordable healthcare.

Dr. Allison Karpyn, Fulbright Scholar and associate professor in the University of Delaware’s department of human development and family sciences, has formed a partnership with the One Eleuthera Foundation (OEF) to help find sustainable solutions to these problems.

In the spring 2018, Karpyn will offer a semester-long course, HDFS 347-070 (Program Development and Evaluation), in which students working in teams will examine local programs whose goal is to provide job training, expand education, or improve the nutrition environment.  

Over spring break, the class will travel to the Bahamas to meet with OEF and partner organizations to complete intensive program evaluation.

Dr. Karpyn is holding an interest meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 17 at 3:30 p.m., room 201 Willard Hall Education Building for students interested in registering for this class.

What is One Eleuthera?

“One Eleuthera is a foundation that connects organizations to the resources they need to create positive and effective changes,” said Karpyn. “I teamed with them last year as part of my Fulbright research, working to address the challenge of food insecurity in the Bahamas. I quickly realized this was a multi-faceted problem, and decided to look for ways UD could help by expanding our partnership with OEF across multiple disciplines.”

Shaun Ingraham, president and CEO, One Eleuthera Foundation, was on UD’s campus in October meeting with faculty and administrators in human services, education, hospitality and public policy.  

“Eleuthera has unique and rich cultural and heritage assets,” Ingraham said. “Our goal is to move away from a fragmented development approach to create a structured plan that makes the natural links among communities and projects. OEF connects people and organizations to the resources necessary to find, develop or expand projects and activities that will allow Eleutherans to be successful. Our partnerships support the development of these programs, with the expectation that they will become revenue generating and self-supporting.”

For example, OEF recently purchased a run-down hotel property and in one year turned the facility into the first vocational training hotel in the Bahamas, where visitors can stay while supporting job creation for local residents.

Residents in the community conducted the renovations themselves with master carpenters, plumbers and electricians hired by the foundation. Residents gained practical job skills while improving the island’s resources and infrastructure and earning a wage. Today the hotel is a training site for people looking to gain experience in hospitality – servers, bartenders, managers, etc. Income generated by the hotel continues to support its training operation.

Similar efforts have resulted in the creation of a credit union, farm, emergency response and cancer center.

“This is a very exciting opportunity for our students to make a profound difference while developing an appreciation for the complex research and measurement challenges faced by society,” said Karpyn.

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