The Fulbright community has responded strongly and effectively to those who have been trying to cut or even destroy the Program. We take our role as advocates for the Fulbright Program very seriously, and the results have been extraordinary. Thank you!
You’ll recall that last spring the Administration proposed a destructive 47% cut to the Program for the current fiscal year. While FY2018 technically started last fall, that proposal hung over us until last week, when the president signed a spending bill that ensured at least $240 million for Fulbright — the same level of spending as last year.
We are proud that thousands of you helped Stand for Fulbright in resisting that cut. Thanks to thousands of petition signers and email writers, thanks to hundreds of advocates who met with members of Congress on the Hill and in offices across the country, the Program is saved. We worked closely with powerful friends from both parties and both the House and Senate who appreciated hearing your voices encouraging them to support Fulbright. Thank you so much for your engagement and advocacy!
These efforts can never rest, however. The Fulbright Program must be appropriated each year, and once again, it is under threat. For FY2019, the Administration has proposed an even deeper cut — 71%! So we relaunched our Stand for Fulbright campaign on March 6, this time concentrating all our efforts in the weeks that have followed.
There are three parts to this: “All In,” Advocacy Day, and Grassroots Advocacy. “All In” consists of petitions, emails and calls. As of March 28, we have amassed 5,000 petition signatures, and more than 300 phone calls and 10,000 letters to members of Congress. Collectively, our community’s advocacy efforts have reached 508 of the 535 Congressional offices, an impressive 95% of all members. And there is still time to participate — just click here to sign the petition and send a letter to your representative electronically.
Our Advocacy Day on March 21 was a success, despite the challenges of a rare Washington snowstorm. Our group of 50 advocates met with 41 congressional offices, often on the fly, as schedules were thrown into weather-induced chaos. These meetings were very effective, as we explained the impact of the program, told our stories, and asked for increased funding that will restore the Program to 2010 levels through consistent increases over the next four years.
After a productive day of meetings on the Hill, our volunteers were welcomed to the Embassy of Bolivia for a reception hosted by Chargé d’Affaires Pablo Canedo, who is also a Fulbright alumnus. We are grateful for the hospitality shared with us and for Chargé Canedo’s powerful remarks on the importance of the Fulbright spirit, both in his own life and in creating strong connections between nations. Manfred Philipp, President of the Fulbright Association, and Mary Kirk, Director of Academic Exchange Programs at the U.S. Department of State also offered remarks during the reception.
Now, we are continuing our efforts working with chapters and volunteers across the country to meet with members of the House and Senate at the local level. Contact us if you would like to join these grassroots efforts. We must Stand for Fulbright, once again, both to oppose the 71% cut and to put the program on a path to restore its strength. Thank you for your continued support of these efforts.
—John B. Bader, Ph.D., Executive Director