The UCLA Congo Basin Institute received one of four 2021 W.K. Kellogg Foundation Engagement Scholarship Awards. The awards, given annually by the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities and the Engagement Scholarship Consortium, honor programs with an exemplary record of engaging communities with teaching, research and service.

“This just further shows that UCLA is committed to serving the community, not just on campus, but around the world,” said Tom Smith, founder and co-executive director of the institute.

The Congo Basin Institute, based in Yaoundé, Cameroon, operates tropical research facilities in Central Africa. It works with local and indigenous communities along with researchers from around the world to address local, regional and global problems in an equitable and sustainable way.

The basin of the Congo River in west central Africa has long suffered from brain drain — the exodus of its best-trained experts to other parts of the world — leaving it without the human resources it needs to confront major problems, such as food insecurity, infectious disease outbreaks and the effects of climate change. The institute aims to change that by giving local scientists and researchers proper facilities and support to do their work.

By earning the award, the institute and three other regional winners — programs at the University of Minnesota, UNC Greensboro and Virginia Tech — become finalists for the C. Peter Magrath Community Engagement Scholarship Award, which includes a $20,000 prize. The Magrath award will be announced in November.