WASHINGTON, DC — The Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) is renewing its call on U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo to support a new Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) grant that would empower Armenia’s youth through a $140 million Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics (STEAM) education program for the country’s public schools.
In a letter sent today to Secretary Pompeo, who chairs the MCC Board of Directors, ANCA Chairman Raffi Hamparian asked the Secretary of State to review a financial analysis conducted by the World Bank that classified Armenia as an “upper middle income” country. “This highly contentious determination – made in the face of the vast and persistent poverty outside of Yerevan and across the Armenian countryside – makes Armenia ineligible for MCC grants,” explained Hamparian.
The ANCA Chairman and Secretary Pompeo last exchanged correspondence on the matter in May of 2018, when the Secretary of State stated: “We appreciate your idea of a new MCC compact focused on STEAM education for Armenia. […] We hope to see the Armenian government make progress on MCC’s eligibility criteria (‘scorecard’) this year so that the MCC Board of Directors may consider Armenia for a compact during the annual selection process.”
The ANCA is advocating for a Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math (STEAM) MCC grant for Armenia – that would – similar to the MCC compact recently concluded in neighboring Georgia – deliver over $75 million for school infrastructure improvements, $30 million for STEAM education projects, $15 million for vocational educational programs to meet the growing demand for information technology professionals, among other investments. The MCC grant would likely be apportioned over a 5-year period and would be subject to strict oversight by the MCC to ensure the program is benefiting students across Armenia.
The Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) is an innovative and independent U.S. foreign aid agency that is helping lead the fight against global poverty. Created by the U.S. Congress in January 2004 with strong bipartisan support, MCC has changed the conversation on how best to deliver smart U.S. foreign assistance by focusing on good policies, country ownership, and results. MCC provides time-limited grants promoting economic growth, reducing poverty, and strengthening institutions.
The full text of the ANCA letter to Secretary Pompeo is below and available here.
TEXT OF ANCA LETTER TO SECRETARY OF STATE POMPEO
August 15, 2019
Hon. Michael Pompeo
Secretary of State
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20230
Dear Mr. Secretary:
I am writing to follow up on your correspondence to me last year expressing appreciation for the Armenian National Committee of America’s (ANCA) proposal that the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) explore a new Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math (STEAM) focused compact with the Republic of Armenia. We very much appreciated the enthusiasm you expressed, in your May 17, 2018 letter to the ANCA, to “advance the many shared interests” between the United States and the Republic of Armenia.
With the Millennium Challenge Corporation welcoming a talented new Chief Executive Officer, Sean Cairncross, we believe the time is ripe to take the first concrete steps towards a STEAM focused MCC compact for public schools across Armenia. Similar to the very successful Science, Technology, Engineering and Math focused MCC compact that was recently concluded in the Republic of Georgia, a new compact for Armenia, focused on education, would help strengthen and sustain political and economic progress in the wake of its recent democratic transition.
With respect to moving forward with a new MCC compact for Armenia, the ANCA would respectfully request that the U.S. Department of State, in cooperation with other appropriate federal agencies, formally ask that the World Bank transparently review and, as warranted, revise its classification of Armenia as an upper middle income country. This highly contentious determination – made in the face of the vast and persistent poverty outside of Yerevan and across the Armenian countryside – makes Armenia ineligible for MCC grants.
On behalf of the ANCA, I want to thank you for your past correspondence citing the enduring friendship between the American and Armenian peoples. We look forward to working with you, in your capacity as Chair of the MCC Board of Directors, to advance this friendship by initiating a constructive dialogue with respect to a new STEAM focused MCC compact for Armenia’s public schools and the many thousands of promising students that they serve.
Raffi Haig Hamparian
cc: Sean Cairncross, Chief Executive Officer, Millennium Challenge Corporation