Office of Academic Exchange Programs
The Office of Academic Exchange Programs provides opportunities for international study and research from the undergraduate through postdoctoral and professional levels.
The Office of Alumni Affairs (OAA) seeks to maximize the return on investment in people-to-people connections by turning individual exchanges into enduring relationships. The OAA leads strategic alumni engagement with U.S. and foreign exchange alumni by providing regional bureaus and U.S. embassies with tools and resources that include policy guidance, project funding, regional seminars, professional development workshops, virtual mentorship, and knowledge management. The office also engages directly with alumni and global alumni associations to strengthen networks and support projects – both in person and on virtual platforms – that build on the experience gained by participants during their exchange programs. In FY2020, the OAA quickly pivoted to virtual engagements during the COVID-19 pandemic, adjusting its alumni programming to meet the needs of the alumni at a uniquely challenging moment. The OAA launched the Alumni Rapid Response Fund to support alumni projects related to address current and post-recovery COVID-19 needs.
The Office of American Spaces
The Office of American Spaces oversees a network of 600+ open-access cultural centers located in more than 140 countries. These technologically-equipped Spaces share American culture and values with foreign audiences by providing access to free resources and conducting strategic programs.
Office of Citizen Exchanges
Office of English Language Programs
The Office of English Language Programs designs and manages programs to promote language learning and support the teaching of English in countries around the world in support of U.S. foreign policy goals. These programs are administered through local American Embassies and Consulates and are overseen by Regional English Language Officers.
Office of Global Educational Programs
The Office of Global Educational Programs administers several programs that support or encourage the exchange of teachers, students, and non-academic professionals.
Office of International Visitors
The Office of International Visitors, now in its 70th year, brings professionals from all over the world to the U.S. to meet with their counterparts and experience the U.S. firsthand.
Cultural Heritage Center
The Cultural Heritage Center provides expertise on cultural heritage policy and supports the protection and preservation of cultural heritage worldwide. It serves as the secretariat for the interagency Cultural Heritage Coordinating Committee (CHCC), a forum where ideas and programs incubated in individual agencies and CHCC working groups are shared with all relevant parties. The Center oversees and supports the Cultural Property Advisory Committee (CPAC) and the State Department’s decision-making functions concerning cultural property agreements.
Ongoing programs to protect and preserve cultural heritage worldwide include the U.S. Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation (AFCP) and the CHC-led interagency Cultural Antiquities Task Force (CATF). The protection and preservation of cultural heritage enable the State Department to promote stability, economic development, and good governance in partner countries while preventing the illicit trade of cultural artifacts, some of which finances terrorist organizations and other criminal networks.
Office of Private Sector Exchange
- Monitoring and evaluation are key components of ECA’s programming. The Evaluation Division has primary responsibility within the bureau for the assessment of program effectiveness in the advancement of U.S. foreign policy goals. The Evaluation Division supports ECA’s commitment to meeting and exceeding its programmatic goals by providing the data necessary to drive evidence-based decision-making and inform resource requests. The evidence gathered enables program managers to identify and remediate real-time challenges, measure programming efforts against U.S. foreign policy goals, and provide greater program accountability and transparency. More information about the work of the Evaluation Division can be found in the “Monitoring and Evaluation at the Core of ECA’s Exchanges” Spotlight feature elsewhere in this chapter.
The Policy Unit supports ECA’s efforts to link programs closely to foreign policy goals and to provide flexible and rapid response capabilities to international events and developments. It serves as the bureau’s in-house think-tank, exploring strategies for using exchanges as a policy tool and providing analysis and responses to requests and inquiries from interagency partners and Congress. The unit is the primary liaison with the regional bureaus and regularly convenes policy dialogues that give ECA program offices opportunities to explore how exchanges can be made even more relevant and effective foreign policy tools. The Policy Unit coordinates responses to State Department, National Security Council, and congressional questions requiring input from all ECA program offices.
Public Private Partnerships
- The Public-Private Partnership Unit (P3) develops and engages in strategic public-private collaboration that leverages the expertise, networks, and resources of the Department of State with those of the private sector, non-profits, and academic institutions worldwide.
Office of the U.S. Speaker Program
- The U.S. Speaker Program recruits American experts to engage international audiences on topics of strategic importance to the United States. Programs are conducted in-person and through virtual engagement platforms.
The office conducts approximately 600 programs annually worldwide, collaborating with U.S. embassies and consulates around the world to develop and implement customized programs. Washington-based program officers identify and recruit prominent U.S. citizen experts; tailor programs to meet specific needs of international audiences through workshops, lectures, seminars, and consultations; utilize innovative technologies to amplify messaging; and foster long-term relationships between U.S. speakers and overseas audiences in order to sustain dialogue on key themes and issues.