For more than 75 years, professional, academic, and cultural exchange programs have been a proven and cost-effective public diplomacy tool that has strengthened relationships and ties between Americans and the world.
By enabling students, teachers, researchers, scholars, and skilled professionals to experience the United States firsthand–and by allowing Americans to experience life through the lens of other countries in the same way–international exchange programs allow us to:
- Build durable connections between Americans and the international community based on mutual understanding and respect
- Provide high potential young leaders with opportunities to learn a foreign language, and develop the skills, expertise, and cultural awareness demanded in today’s economy
- Promote shared values and sustained dialogue to maintain peace and security
While the vast majority of exchanges are privately-funded, those programs which do receive government support, like the Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange and International Visitor Leadership Program, allow the U.S. to engage a diverse set of individuals of all ages who otherwise would not have access to these experiences, providing significant benefits to our nation’s economy in the process.
In fact, 90 percent of federal funding is spent in the United States or on Americans.
For these vital programs and others to continue to flourish and retain bipartisan support, congressional officials need to hear directly from you about the local and wide-ranging impact of exchanges in their home states and districts.
What Can I Do?
The Trump administration released its FY 2018 budget, which calls for unprecedented cuts to the International Affairs Budget of 32 percent, including a 55 percent cut to the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. If enacted into law, these cuts would greatly harm our nation’s public diplomacy efforts and, ultimately, our national security and economy.
Tell Your Reps Why #ExchangesMatter to You
Direct and personal outreach to elected officials is a vital part of successful advocacy. To sustain exchange program funding, it is essential that your representatives (find them here) are aware of the personal impact exchange programs have made in your life, your community, and your organization.
Call your members of the House and Senate and ask that they support full funding of international exchange programs today! Emails and social media are effective, too. Here are additional resources to support your efforts.
Find a town hall or forum being held by a congressperson near you.
Members of Congress are primarily concerned with residents from his or her district or state. For our international alumni and supporters, we encourage you to contact the U.S. ambassador in your country, as well as your country’s ambassador in Washington, to share the impact of your exchange experiences. The friends, hosts, and connections you made while in the U.S. can also be important means in which you can actively engage in these efforts.
Here, you can view our latest updates, statements, as well as active action alerts and issues where we need your voice to help amplify our message in support of exchange programs.
- Ask your Representative to Co-sponsor Bipartisan House Resolution Recognizing Exchange Programs – Deadline: July 14
Updates + Information
Budget Jeopardizes our Nation’s Public Diplomacy Efforts (May 23)
Fate of Educational and Cultural Exchange Programs Rests with Congress Administration’s 2018 Budget Jeopardizes our Nation’s Public Diplomacy Efforts
Increase for Exchanges in FY17 Omnibus Bill (May 5)
Congress passed an omnibus appropriations bill for FY17 that the President has signed into law to fund the government through September 30. It includes an increase of 7 percent for ECA programs. The new level of $634.1 million (from $590.9 million in FY16) is just short of the high-water mark of $635 million in FY10. This is extremely significant – especially in light of the administration’s request for a 24 percent cut. The report language is available here.
Dear Colleague Letters to Support Exchange (April 7)
Our community supported a letter-writing campaign in April, coordinated by the Alliance for International Exchange, to request that members of the House and Senate add their names to ‘Dear Colleague’ letters addressed to leaders of the Senate and House Appropriations subcommittees, endorsing continued spending for all State Department exchanges. Our meetings on the Hill and outreach helped to grow the bipartisan list to 120 Representatives and 29 Senators!
Senator Cory Booker (NJ) Dear Colleague Letter in Senate (April 7)
Rep. Hank Johnson (GA-4) Dear Colleague Letter in House of Representatives (March 29)
Response to Executive Order on Immigration Policy
While this situation is fluid and many specifics remain uncertain, we are certain about our commitment to each of you. Cultural Vistas strives to embrace the benefits of diversity, inclusion, and respect for differing beliefs, and we work every day towards a world which is truly global and pluralistic in outlook.
Response to Executive Order on Immigration Policy
Spread the Word
As the world grows more rapidly, the complexity of the global challenges it faces increase every day. Effective solutions will require a greater diversity of skills, perspectives, resources, and relationships – all of which are made possible through exchange programs.
Share your impact story on our blog
Why are exchange programs important to you? Have you gained fluency in a foreign language or maybe found a mentor that has made all the difference as a result of your experience? We want to hear from you.
Connect with us, and others on social media.
You can start by following @CulturalVistas, @ECAatState, and @AllianceExchnge on Twitter. It’s an easy way to show your support, stay informed, and see the impact of exchanges.
Tell your networks why #ExchangesMatter.
- Print our #ExchangesMatter Sign + Share
Show your support for exchanges, share these social media graphics:
It is vital that we keep Congress educated on the invaluable benefits of federally-supported international exchange programs. The House and Senate Appropriations Subcommittees on State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs determine the funding level for educational and cultural exchange programs.
Its members are the critical decision makers in Congress determining funding for programs, such as the Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange (CBYX), the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP), and the Young Southeast Asian Leadership Initiative, among others.
While the vast majority of our exchange programs at Cultural Vistas are privately funded (over 90%), both CBYX and IVLP, two of the longest-standing programs we administer, would stand to be affected by the proposed cuts. Below are two fact sheets to help you and your officials learn more about the impact of these programs:
Appropriations Subcommittees on State, Foreign Operations, + Related Programs
|Hal Rogers (KY-5), Chairman||Nita Lowey (NY-18), Ranking Member|
|Kay Granger (TX-12)||Barbara Lee (CA-13)|
|Mario Diaz-Balart (FL-25)||C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger (MD-2)|
|Charlie Dent (PA-15)||Grace Meng (NY-6)|
|Tom Rooney (FL-17)||David Price (NC-4)|
|Jeff Fortenberry (NE-1)|
|Chris Stewart (UT-2)|
|Lindsey Graham (SC), Chairman||Patrick Leahy (VT), Ranking Member|
|Mitch McConnell (KY)||Richard Durbin (IL)|
|Roy Blunt (MO)||Jeanne Shaheen (NH)|
|John Boozman (AR)||Christopher Coons (DE)|
|Jerry Moran (KS)||Jeff Merkley (OR)|
|James Lankford (OK)||Chris Murphy (CT)|
|Steve Daines (MT)||Chris Van Hollen (MD)|
|Marco Rubio (FL)|