Wednesday May 27, 2020


February 5, 2013

In one of her final duties as Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton recently announced the launch of the 100,000 Strong Foundation, a non-profit organization based in American University’s School of International Service. The Foundation represents a public-private partnership which will carry out the mission of the 100,000 Strong Initiative, which was announced by President Obama in Beijing in November 2009 and formally launched by Secretary Clinton in May 2010. The goal of the 100,000 Strong Initiative is to send 100,000 U.S. students to study in China by 2014. Once this initial goal is met, the Foundation will continue to engage in efforts to strengthen U.S.-China educational exchanges.

The 100,000 Strong Foundation was launched with support from private-sector partners such as the Ford Foundation and the Florence Fang Family Foundation. China’s ambassador to the U.S., Zhang Yesui, was in attendance for the Foundation’s launch and reaffirmed China’s support of people-to-people exchanges. The original Initiative and its subsequent Foundation are supported by the Chinese government through the offering of 20,000 scholarships—a doubling of the initially committed 10,000 scholarships—for students to study in China. These scholarships are offered via the Chinese Ministry of Education’s U.S.-China Consultation on People-to-People Exchange (CPE). Thus these scholarships, which cover all in-country costs, are known as “CPE Scholarships” or “Bridge Scholarships”.  Interested students may apply for these scholarships through their home university’s study abroad office to study at any of over 200 Chinese universities with which their home university may have a credit transfer agreement. Thus far, approximately 6500 U.S. students have received scholarships through this program.

In addition to these scholarships, the Foundation will seek support from private companies, educational institutions, and charitable, civic, and professional organizations. To supplement the mission of the Foundation’s home base at American University’s School of International Service, which will promote bilateral educational exchanges by developing a national platform for engaging students and academics, the Foundation will partner with three additional initiatives:

Project Pengyou is an independent nonprofit program under the Golden Bridges Foundation which ensures effective engagement with community and grassroots stakeholders while connecting students, academic institutions, and study abroad programs in the U.S. and China; Foundation is developing a model for engaging students from under-served communities in China-related studies, including adding Mandarin language and Chinese study abroad programs at of The Black Eyed Pea’s boyle heights center in Los Angeles;

-The Mayors Circle involves partnering with U.S. mayors to expand the study of Mandarin at the K-12 level and develop summer study abroad programs for high school students.

Current State of U.S.-China Educational Exchange

Presently, approximately twelve times more Chinese students study in the U.S. than American students study in China. Similarly, there are over 600 times more Chinese students studying English than American students studying Chinese. Although educational exchanges between the two countries are increasing, the number of Chinese students studying in the U.S. grew 23% from 2011 to 2012, compared to a 5% increase in the number of Americans studying in China over the same period. According to the Institute of International Education’s most recent Open Doors report, students from China continue to comprise the largest group of international students studying in America (a spot it has held since the 2009-2010 academic year), with a total of 194,029 students or approximately 25% of the total international student population. By comparison, 14,596 American students studied abroad in China in 2010-2011, with China ranking as the fifth most popular study abroad destination for American students, behind the UK, Italy, Spain, and France.

The Importance of Educational Exchange

The 100,000 Strong Initiative was launched with the goal of preparing the next generation of American experts on China, in an effort to foster a cooperative future between the two countries. Thus, the 100,000 Strong Foundation sees its role as helping address the present imbalance of U.S.-China student exchanges by encouraging and creating opportunities for America’s next generation of leaders to develop a personal understanding of one of its key global partners. At the Foundation launch, Secretary Clinton emphasized:

“We focused on student exchanges because we believe that the future is very clearly in the hands of the young people of both of our countries…The more we can foster exchanges and understanding, mutual trust, the better off not only the relationship will be, but each of our countries individually…Our relations, government-to-government, are obviously essential, but it is those people-to-people ties that are going to determine the quality of the relationship for the future.”


For further information on U.S.-China educational exchanges, please see the following news sources:

100K Strong Foundation Website

American UniversitySecretary Clinton Unveils 100,000 Strong Foundation

China DailyExchange program launched

Institute of International EducationOpen Doors 2012 Fast Facts

Institute of International EducationOpen Doors Fact Sheet: China

Politico An education exchange would strengthen ties with China

U.S. Department of State100,000 Strong Initiative

U.S. Department of StateDetails on CPE Scholarships

U.S. Department of StateRemarks at Launch of the 100,000 Strong Foundation


For Chinese language commentary on the launch of the 100,000 Strong Foundation, please see the following news sources:

China Education News (中国教育部新闻网) –两年内四万多美国学生来华

CRI Online (中国国际广播电台) – 美赴华留学人数攀升 “十万强基金会”助更多学生到华留学

Global Times (环球时报) –美设基金会推动十万人留学中国 被指可改变一生

People’s Daily (人民网) –美国十万强基金会将启动 方李邦琴捐赠100万美元

Voice of America (美国之声) –美国成立‘十万强基金会’支持留学中国


Compiled and edited by Catherine Beck.