"...The United States will work with partners in this region, including the private sector, to increase the number of U.S. students studying in Latin America to 100,000, and the number of Latin American students
studying in the United States to 100,000."
- President Barack Obama
President Obama launched "100,000 Strong in the Americas" to focus attention on the critical importance of quality education to shared regional prosperity. Expanded exchange opportunities for students, the future leaders and innovators of our hemisphere, foster trade and business ties, strengthen bilateral relations, and prepare young people for the 21st century global workforce. The President believes that increasing student exchanges in the Western Hemisphere will build greater understanding among the people of the Americas and deepen our shared dedication to democracy, the rule of law, and tolerance.
The future of the people and nations of the Americas is inextricably linked. The Hispanic population in the United States is more than 50 million and continues to grow. The middle class in Latin America has grown by 50 million in the last decade, and this growth will continue thanks to the region’s vast manufacturing, agricultural, and mineral resources. Approximately 40 percent of U.S. exports go to our Latin American and Caribbean neighbors. There is more energy in the Americas than the Middle East. By 2060, the population in the Americas is projected to be greater than that of China and we will be each other’s vendors and clients. 100,000 Strong will deepen relationships across the Hemisphere that enable young people to explore the Americas, understand our shared values and various cultures, and lead the process of greater commercial and social integration that will provide for increasing security and prosperity.
With approximately 40,000 U.S. students studying in Latin America and the Caribbean and 60,000 Latin American and Caribbean students studying in the United States each year, the goal is ambitious. We are seeking to more than double the number of exchange students in our region in less than ten years. Many Latin American and Caribbean students, particularly those of indigenous and Latinos of African descent, do not have the English language skills or resources to be successful at U.S. universities. Conversely, many U.S. students are unaware of the opportunities available in the hemisphere and U.S. colleges and universities are not set up to send large numbers of students abroad, facing obstacles such as how to transfer course credits, arranging tuition agreements, and how to handle off-cycle semesters.
To implement the President’s vision, the Department of State has established a partnership with NAFSA: Association of International Educators, the world’s largest nonprofit association dedicated to international education, and Partners of the Americas, a leading voluntary and development agency with over 45 years of experience in the Americas. We help educational institutions develop partnerships that make international study more broadly available to all students. Our matching grant program leverages private and corporate giving so that universities and colleges can expand study abroad programs. This unique public-private partnership will educate and prepare tomorrow’s leaders through today’s investment by corporations, schools, and governments who understand the value of connecting the hemisphere through its young people.