This information is provided by 50 Ways-Rockbridge Member Kip Brooks

 

Subject: Call to Action – Support Rep. Johnson’s Sign-on Letter Now!

The Alliance for International Exchange has organized a letter-writing campaign that makes it very easy for you to write to your representative. Click here to access a prewritten letter. It only takes a minute or two to send this letter to your representative in Congress.

We are reaching out to you with an important call for action. The New Administration in Washington, D.C. released its FY2018 budget yesterday, which calls for an unprecedented cut of 28 percent to the Department of State. While we don’t know by what amount, it is clear that the administration will soon propose steep cuts to the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA). Language in the budget documents directs funding to be focused exclusively on the Fulbright Program, which does not serve high school students.  If enacted into law by Congress, these cuts would likely result in the elimination of the high school grants programs—YES, FLEX, and CBYX—that we have all grown to value so greatly.  In addition, these cuts would significantly harm our nation’s public diplomacy efforts and, ultimately, our national security and economy.

The U.S. Department of State Grant Programs for high school student programs provide opportunities for students in countries that would otherwise not have the chance to experience life and school in the United States. Those of you whom have hosted grants students yourself know how special these students and programs are, and the impact they have on our communities and people here in the U.S., and on their own lives and communities back in their home countries.

We’re asking for your help in supporting Congressman Hank Johnson, who is collecting signatures on a letter to the House State, Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittees in support of exchange program funding. This letter calls for the continuation of funding for exchange programs in FY2018. The deadline for members of Congress to join the “Dear Colleague” letter is Wednesday, March 22.

Adding your voice to this effort will truly make a difference, and we hope you will take a moment to support the future of these programs.

 

[This is an excerpt from a letter written by CIEE, the Council on International Education Exchange: https://www.ciee.org%5D:

I write to ask for your support of educational and cultural exchange programs.

The Trump administration recently released its FY2018 budget, which calls for an unprecedented cut of 28 percent to the Department of State. While we don’t know by what amount, it is clear that the administration will soon propose steep cuts to the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA). If enacted into law, these cuts would greatly harm our nation’s public diplomacy efforts and, ultimately, our national security and economy.

I urge you to help protect these programs by joining a “Dear Colleague” letter led by Representative Hank Johnson. This letter calls for the highest possible funding level for exchange programs in FY2018. The deadline to join the letter is Wednesday, March 22.

Educational and cultural exchange programs have been a critical component of our national security policy since the end of World War II. Often described as part of our “soft power” strategy, these programs bring international visitors to the United States for short term, full immersion stays that range from weeks to an entire academic year. Students, professors, emerging political leaders, athletes, artists, and others are funded by the State Department to visit the United States. These programs also provide Americans with life-changing opportunities to study, research, and train abroad.

Defense Secretary James Mattis has previously suggested that underfunding the State Department, which includes exchange programs, means the United States will need to ‘buy more ammunition.’ I wholeheartedly agree. Exchange programs have a long track record of success and are indispensable in our nation’s diplomacy toolbox.

The State Department reports that 1 in 3 current world leaders participated in an exchange program to the United States. In another study, the Department reports that 92 percent of participants from Muslim majority countries have a more favorable view of the United States upon completion of their program. The vast majority of the State Department’s exchanges budget is spent in the United States. Further, the investment in exchange programs creates the conditions for many international students to come to the United States, where they have a significant economic impact. The more than one million international students who studied here in 2015-16 contributed over $32 billion dollars to our economy and supported over 400,000 jobs.

I ask you to please join the Hank Johnson “Dear Colleague” letter in support of State Department exchange programs. The letter language is provided below. To add your name, please contact Oleg Svet in Rep. Hank Johnson’s office at 225-1605, oleg.svet@mail.house.gov.

 

 

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