The passionate battle to win support of important exchange programs continues with increasing furor.  Opponents to the significant State Department budget cuts that will affect the Bureau for Educational and Cultural Affairs are lobbying hard to maintain program funding. The Alliance for International Exchange, which comprises 90 nongovernmental organizations, with more than 10,000 staff and 1.25 million volunteers across the U.S., is leading the effort to solicit bi-partisan support. Over 7300 letters have been submitted to House and Senate leaders asking that for their support to continue funding cultural exchange programs.

In a reasoned opinion piece published by The Hill, Alliance Executive Director, Ilir Zherka, argues that exchange programs are vital not just to U.S. diplomacy efforts, but to national security.

The Alliance also submitted testimony to the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs in support of an FY 2018 exchange program appropriation of $627.8 million or the highest possible funding level.

“This appropriation will fund the diverse array of educational and cultural exchange initiatives – proven and cost effective public diplomacy tools that promote U.S. national security, strengthen the U.S. economy, and increase mutual understanding between the United States and nations across the globe.”

Alliance Abroad stands behind the efforts to keep funding these vitally important programs.  Cultural exchange programs constitute a fraction of the overall federal budget, yet yield great advantages to American economy, diplomacy and security.

Preserving these programs is a cause worthy of all our best efforts to voice our passionate support.