Kerry advocates for increased exchanges at Summit of the Americas

At the Summit of the Americas last week, Secretary of State John Kerry stressed the importance of educational exchanges in economic development:

“… [E]ducation more so than ever before, is the ladder of opportunity for people all across the planet… It is why President Obama launched 100,000 Strong in the Americas.”

Throughout his remarks, Kerry chronicled the progression of U.S. investments in the Western Hemisphere regarding educational and vocational exchanges:

“At the 2009 Summit of the Americas, the United States launched our Scholarships for Economic Growth program, which provided $50 million for 1,300 students from Latin America and the Caribbean to be able to get vocational training in the United States. 100,000 Strong in the Americas builds on that effort, and the results speak for themselves: Already, more than 72,000 students are coming to the United States each year from Latin America and the Caribbean. And nearly 47,000 U.S. students benefit from studying abroad in the region.”

The Secretary of State emphasized the advantage that students gain from participating in cultural exchanges:

“They return home equipped with greater confidence, new skills, the ability to speak a foreign language, and they [have] the ability to also work in a foreign culture.”

People to people exchanges are central to public diplomacy efforts, and as a result of their impact, the United States is “doubling down” on the 100,000 Strong in the Americas Initiative, noted Kerry.

The U.S. government also partnered with the private sector in fundraising ”millions” for the Innovation Fund, offering grants to universities to develop study abroad opportunities between the Americas and the United States:

“These university partnerships will create new exchange programs for students that can have a transformative impact, which is exactly why they are such a high priority for me as Secretary of State.”

The State Department has awarded grants to more than 100 higher education institutions domestically, in Argentina, Chile, Costa Rica, Cuba, El Salvador, Mexico, and Paraguay.

To access a video of Secretary Kerry’s full address and transcript, click here