Senator Fulbright, during the celebration of the 30th anniversary of the Fulbright Program, called for alumni to create an active body to advocate for the program. Today, the main responsibility of the Fulbright Association is serving as the unified voice of the Fulbright community in advocating for the program to the U.S. Congress.
The primary source of funding (approximately 65%) for the Fulbright Program is an annual appropriation by the U.S. Congress to the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA). Participating governments and host institutions, corporations, and foundations in foreign countries and in the United States also provide direct and indirect support. We support Fulbright Program funding at the $252 million level for FY2020.
Fulbrighters gathered on the Capitol Hill in the early morning October 24 and had the opportunity to listen of the Bruce Fowler, from the Associate Advocacy Task Force, and watch an advocacy video message from Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), John Bader Association executive director, and Senator Mark Pryor (D-AR-ret) giving their advice before meeting with the representatives. During more than 100 meetings, Fulbright alumni shared their stories of the impact of the Fulbright Program at home and abroad.
The Association pursues a strategic and non-partisan approach to advocacy at the local, national, and global levels. Supporters including Fulbright alumni and friends defend the program by focusing their efforts on the decision-makers in Congress. In 2019, more than 90% of the members of Congress have received letters from their constituents calling on them to prevent cuts. This citizen action aided by the association shows the scale of support for the Fulbright program. The Fulbright Association has been involved in such initiatives as local grassroots campaigns across the U.S. including in many local visits organized by chapters in local congressional offices as well as petition and write in. According to the teams visiting Congress this year, the campaign received positive feedback and bipartisan declarations of support for the program.
Additionally, to physical campaign during the Advocacy Day, the Fulbright Association has run a very effective campaign on social media using the hashtag #StandForFulbright where Fulbright alumni shared a highlight from their Fulbright experience and joined the global Fulbright community in showing their support for one another and the Program on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn highlighting the positive impact of the Fulbright Program worldwide.
This year’s annual Advocacy Day was not only a great experience for supporting the program but also an excellent opportunity for Fulbright alumni to meet with their state representatives in Washington, D.C. and attend in 42nd Annual Conference in the home city of the Fulbright Association.
Marek Siek, Fulbright Association