Two decades ago, the U.S. Department of State created a new initiative to preserve cultural heritage around the globe. The first diplomatic cable that launched the Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation (AFCP) grant competition was sent on April 3, 2001, one of a series of measures taken since the early 1980s to merge cultural preservation and protection with American diplomacy. The cable echoed the sentiments of then-Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who had prioritized cultural heritage activities overseas to celebrate the new millennium.
Over a thousand projects later, the AFCP continues to show, “a different American face to other countries, one that is non-commercial, non-political, and non-military,” as former Secretary Albright wrote in the fall of 1998. “By showing that America values the diversity of cultures,” she stated, “we may be able to counter negative images of our own culture and build stronger ties of understanding and peace throughout the world.”
Since 2001, U.S. missions in 133 countries across the world have used the power of cultural preservation and the AFCP to spur economic development, engage women and youth, cultivate respect for cultural diversity, and further promote U.S. foreign policy objectives. In celebration of this incredible program's anniversary, the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, which administers the AFCP program, invites all U.S. missions, State Department programs, and preservation partners to join in celebrating 20 years of American leadership, cooperation, and support for the preservation of cultural heritage.