April 2019: Advocacy Update

April 2019: Advocacy Update

Fulbrighters love a challenge.  We imagined an adventure overseas (which also means coming to the U.S.) as an optimistic act of discovery and diplomacy.  We then tackled the unexpected problems of living that adventure, and then we returned, eager to give back to the communities—and the taxpayers—who had funded our grants. 

Our current and ongoing challenge is how to help the Fulbright Program steer through the stormy waters of this political era.  And, like shipmates tossed about by a squall, we know the answer to that challenge is to work together and throw our full and collective energies into weathering that storm. 

Right now, you can join this “crew” of tenacious Fulbrighters by signing our petition and contacting your representatives in Congress, asking them to continue funding the Program at $271.5 million.  Your voice is essential, and taking these actions will take only a few minutes, if you have not already.   

As of this writing, over 3000 of you have signed the petition—and we want to reach 10,000.  Nearly 500 have sent a communication to Congress, and we hope for many more.  Writing directly to your representative, using this link, is a powerful opportunity to tell your own story to those who make funding decisions.  Please do so, even if you have signed the petition already. 

You can also join us for Advocacy Day on October 24, connected this year to our Annual Conference here in Washington, DC.  Look for our registration announcement on May 15, and then join what we hope will be the largest group of Fulbrighters and friends ever to visit Capitol Hill at one time. 

Some updates: 

  • Our spring Advocacy Day, scheduled for February, was cancelled due to a second possible government shutdown.  Sometimes it is better to avoid a storm.  The cancelation was an inconvenience to many registered advocates, and we apologize. 
  • President Trump eventually signed a spending bill for the State Department that included $271.5 million for the Fulbright Program.  This 13% boost in spending from $240 million was a budgetary wash, however, as it represents a transfer of funds for the Fulbright in Egypt, Pakistan and Afghanistan. 
  • Association members in New Hampshire, Florida, Kentucky, and Missouri visited state and district congressional offices in April.  We thank them for taking the time to speak directly to these offices about the Fulbright, telling stories of the impact of the program here and overseas.  (Inspired by this work, folks in Kentucky and Missouri are starting the process of opening the first Association chapters in those states.) 

 –John Bader
Executive Director 


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