Happy 30th anniversary to the Alliance!
Three decades is no small feat. The Alliance’s longevity is a testament to the resilience of its ideals. As a diverse group of organizations united by a common purpose, we know that our collective efforts make us stronger.
This year, our team focused our work on five key growth areas:
Building Unity and Community
Our journey this year has been guided by understanding and serving our members’ priorities. Member responses to our Engagement Survey in January told us that they value what we do on their behalf – advocacy most of all – and our members want to be more involved.
We’ve also worked to bring you together, both in-person and virtually, as much as possible. We held our first in-person Advocacy Day since 2020 on March 9, with 101 participants from 30 Alliance members. We embarked on a journey of enlightenment through our new Community Conversations, providing a virtual platform for the exchange of ideas and insights. We again coordinated Exchange Day, held on August 7. And we were so happy to host more than 300 participants at our marquee event, the Annual Conference.
Activating Our Network’s Advocacy Capabilities
Advocacy remains at the heart of our mission. We started early with a briefing on the Hill in January to engage new Congressional staff. We’ve relentlessly pursued increased funding for educational and cultural exchange (ECE) programs, advocating for $855 million for FY24, with an aspiration of $1.1 billion. Our advocacy efforts gained significant bipartisan support, reinforced by House and Senate sign-letters led by Rep. Hank Johnson (92 signers) and Sen. Cory Booker (38 signers). And our collective advocacy successfully defended exchange programs against a House amendment that aimed to eliminate all funding.
We’ve worked to energize our local advocacy work in a variety of ways, including: 6 Alliance staff-led meetings with key appropriators and authorizers in FL, UT, and TN; direct coordination with Alliance members to tap into their national networks; and leadership of a broad coalition that led to 420 organizations, businesses, and associations endorsing House Resolution 481 in support of BridgeUSA.
The Alliance also joined forces with ten fellow international education organizations to create the U.S. for Success Coalition, a multi-sector effort that aims to foster international student success in the United States through a coordinated national effort.
Prioritizing Collaboration with the Department of State
The Alliance’s enduring partnership with the Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) has always played a pivotal role in our continued success. We’ve prioritized our already-strong relationships with our DOS colleagues, as evidenced by the more than 50 ECA and Consular Affairs colleagues who participated in the 2023 Annual Conference.
We’ve also engaged with ECA on key policy and regulatory priorities, including but not limited to: the challenges of rising costs on grant-funded programs; the digitalization of the DS-2019 form; the clarifying regulation for the Au Pair program; the challenges of host family and school recruitment in the High School program; the challenges of rising visa denials on the Summer Work Travel and Camp Counselor programs; and the creation of a Teacher Program Working Group to engage with ECA on this important and growing program.
Building Thought Leadership
In addition to hosting Community Conversations, we’ve looked to broaden our information sharing and analyses of events, and to be an indispensable information hub. We’ve also focused on two key topics that you, our members, told us were most important to you: DEIA and young professional development. Our team has engaged in conversations with DEIA and young professionals in the field to gain insight into the topics and issues that are top of mind. These conversations led to: conference sessions exploring ways to make exchange programming more accessible for diverse participants and practitioners and how to support emerging leaders in their career development; the relaunching of the McCarry Leadership Award with 21 excellent candidates from 17 member organizations; and the creation of a Young Professional Working Group with more than 40 members.
Growing the Membership
We are so pleased that our community continues to grow and further reflects the diversity of organizations invested in the success of international education and cultural exchange programs.
New and Returning Full Members
– Diversity Abroad
– Expert Au Pair
– Gold Advisory
– International Arts and Artists
– One To World
– Participate Learning
– Teachers Council
– Hanover CRM by Cleversteam
– Cultural Insurance Services International (CISI)
We are grateful for the active participation and consultation of our members, our strong collaboration with ECA, and our continued bipartisan support on Capitol Hill, without whom none of these accomplishments would have been possible.
As we enter the holiday season and prepare for the new year, we hope you’ll take a moment to celebrate our community, field, and shared successes.
Thank you for being a part of our community and happy holidays from the Alliance!