EWB-USA Chapters Send Open Letter to Congress in Support of VEGA

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May 10, 2017

Open Letter to Congress in Support

of the Volunteer for Economic Growth Alliance


Dear Members of Congress:

We are writing on behalf of the thousands of engineers and engineering students who belong to our Engineers Without Borders USA (EWB-USA) chapters around the country to seek your support for continuing opportunities to volunteer on U.S. programs to spur economic growth in the developing world.

EWB-USA is an international organization representing thousands of volunteers who together have impacted over half a million lives worldwide with projects designed to meet the basic human needs of partnering communities.

Your immediate assistance is needed to ensure an initiative which allows the U.S. government and taxpayers to benefit from our members’ generosity, ingenuity and skills does not end on June 10, 2017—the Volunteers for Economic Growth Alliance (VEGA).

EWB-USA is a proud member of VEGA, a consortium of 29 member organizations representing millions of Americans that generate more prosperity through partnerships that bring together highly skilled volunteers with people around the globe seeking opportunities for self-reliance. For more than a dozen years, VEGA has partnered with the U.S. government on 58 economic growth programs in 46 countries and estimates that it has saved more than $31 million taxpayer dollars in volunteer time alone.

EWB-USA is but one member of VEGA that provides a pipeline of highly skilled volunteers whose ordinary daily rates would usually far exceed the maximum permitted by the U.S. government. VEGA’s network of skilled volunteers expertise spans the spectrum of technical assistance needed for economic growth programs worldwide—including financial services, engineering and infrastructure, enterprise development, local capacity building, farming and agriculture, water and sanitation, power and much more.

Unfortunately, the VEGA partnership with USAID will end on June 10 unless it is extended by USAID. Because a new head of USAID has not yet been named, the temporary leadership at the Agency will likely need to be directed by Congress to renew this initiative so that the incoming leadership will have the continuity and opportunity to use VEGA to efficiently and effectively incorporate skilled volunteers into economic growth programs. Otherwise, it could take months—or even years—for a new USAID Administrator to establish a new initiative for utilizing the skills of Americans seeking to serve.

We believe that especially as the U.S. government looks for budget cuts and taxpayer savings, initiatives that deploy pro-bono private sector and university experts to strengthen cross-cultural partnerships, increase opportunities for trade and convey the best of American values should be prioritized. The best way to do this is to act now to extend the U.S. Agency for International Development’s partnership with VEGA.

Therefore, we respectfully request that you urge leadership in the current administration to move swiftly so that we and VEGA can continue to have opportunities to serve the American people and generate economic growth with partners around the globe.



Elizabeth Abbott, President
Washington University Chapter
Saint Louis, Missouri

Eset Alemu, President
Puget Sound Professional Chapter
Seattle, Washington

Esther Baas, President
Marquette University
Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Amelia Becher, Director of Membership
University of Nebraska Chapter
Lincoln, Nebraska

Marissa Carletta, President
Saint Louis University Chapter
Saint Louis, Missouri

Abraham DeMaio, Project Lead
University of New Hampshire Student Chapter
Durham, New Hampshire

Kathleen DiMilia, President
Newark Delaware Professional Chapter
Newark, Delaware

Stephanie Gago, President
Penn State University Harrisburg Student Chapter
State College, Pennsylvania

Gregory Henk, President
Orange County Professional Chapter
Irvine, California

Elena van Hove, Design Lead
Purdue University Student Chapter
West Lafayette, Indiana

Emily Katzner, President
Northeastern University Chapter
Boston, Massachusetts

Phillip Keck, President
Mississippi State University Student Chapter
Starkville, Mississippi

Bryce Linkous, President
Miami University Student Chapter
Miami, Florida

Rocky Macsalka, President
Denver Professional Chapter
Denver, Colorado

Jonathan Mead, Vice President
Washington DC Professional Chapter
Washington, District of Columbia

James R. Mireles, President
Johnson Space Center Professional Chapter
Houston, Texas



Julia Ni, Project Lead
Princeton University Chapter
Princeton, New Jersey

Jenna O’Brien, President
Virginia Polytechnic Institute Chapter
Blacksburg, Virginia

Jeff O’Neal, President
University of Maryland
College Park, Maryland

Natalie Palmquist, Team Lead
Auburn University Student Chapter
Auburn, Alabama

Eshaan Patheria, President
Harvard University Student Chapter
Boston, Massachusetts

Rob Rapaport, President
Greater Cincinnati Professionals Chapter
Cincinnati, Ohio

Mauricio J. Santos, President
Los Angeles Professional Chapter
Los Angeles, California

Michelle Stanley, President
University of Miami Student Chapter
Miami, Florida

Haley Swartz, President
Iowa State University Chapter
Ames, Iowa

Luke William Thompson, President
Montana State University Chapter
Bozeman, Montana

Erin Walsh, President
Southern Methodist University Student Chapter
Dallas, Texas

Garrett Watts, President
Southern Illinois University Carbondale Student Chapter
Carbondale, Illinois

Rachel Webre, President
New York Professional Chapter
New York, New York

Tiffany Woodard, President
Gateway Professional Chapter
Saint Louis, Missouri

Aaron Woodward, President
Arizona State University Chapter
Tempe, Arizona

cc: Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson
U.S. Agency for International Development Acting Administrator Wade Warren
Senate Committee on Foreign Relations
Senate Committee on Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs
House Foreign Affairs Committee
House Committee on Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs