Today, I am pleased to share with our volunteers exciting news about our study abroad programs and fundraising.
A key strategic priority of the Board and Executive Team has been to increase our scholarship giving and expand access to our study abroad programs to more interested and eligible applicants. When program volume was reduced due to COVID, it provided the opportunity for us to reconsider the approach we have been using to recruit, select, and award scholarships for students going abroad with AFS-USA. The Board committed to solidifying this as one of the key pillars of the strategic plan.
Our fundraising efforts have resulted in increased scholarship giving over the past two years, and additionally this past spring a significant donation from the Speedwell Foundation was gifted to AFS-USA, a gift that is transformative for the organization.
Through this generous support from the Speedwell Foundation, we are now positioned to award a million dollars in scholarship assistance for our core year, semester and summer programs over the next year. We have a high level of confidence that this support will continue into the future.
I want to thank Caitlin Schneider and her team for the tremendous amount of work, and the contributions of the Study Abroad Advisory Group, led by Jessica Robinson, for their help in advising on the adjustments to the study abroad process.
The text below describes the objectives of our work on this important initiative:
AFS-USA is committed to making our study abroad programs more accessible and affordable to high school students from all backgrounds who possess the unique qualities needed to succeed on our transformative programs. We are expanding scholarships and aid to ensure that more applicants have the opportunity to become AFS active global citizens.
Accessible and Affordable
We believe that studying abroad should not be contingent on personal finances. We are committed to meeting the demonstrated financial need of every accepted applicant, ensuring that the cost of studying abroad is not a barrier to participation.
We seek students from all backgrounds and experiences to represent the diversity of our country. We believe that fostering inclusion is essential to fulfilling our mission of creating a more just and peaceful world.
Scholarships & Aid
We offer a variety of scholarships and financial assistance. AFS Global Citizen Scholarships & Aid, through the help of our generous donors, offers students over a million dollars in merit and need-based scholarships that range from $1,000 to full tuition, for both our summer and year/semester study abroad programs.
Qualities of an AFSer
AFS students have an openness to learn and be challenged, are flexible, resilient, compassionate, and curious, and are willing to contribute to ongoing dialogues and become lifelong active global citizens. Applicants must demonstrate these qualities in essay questions and an interview when applying for our prestigious scholarships and programs. We also expect students to reflect on and share with us the learning they experience while abroad and contribute to the AFS mission when they return home.
AFS participants do far more than travel to a new country – our immersion programs provide authentic intercultural experiences where students build meaningful connections with a host family, community, and school. AFSers learn about the world in ways that cannot be found in a guidebook and, in turn, get out of their comfort zones to experience an abundance of growth over the course of the exchange program and beyond.
Active Global Citizens
AFS defines active global citizens as human beings whose informed, compassionate, and ethical compass drives them to lead lives and make decisions that contribute to a more just, equitable, peaceful, and sustainable world. The world needs more active global citizens—and AFS helps create them.
We still have more work to do and many things to figure out, but beginning later this week, study abroad affiliated volunteers will start to receive more information on how the scholarship programming and study abroad application process will be adjusted, effective with the 2024 programs. We will also be integrating these efforts with our orientation content, school strategy marketing, and alumni engagement efforts over the coming year. Thank you!