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Moves to bolster black students’ study abroad

IIE’s Center for Access and Equity has committed itself to boosting the number of black male students who take part in study abroad programs through a new partnership. 

Only 5.3% of students that participated in study abroad in the 2021/22 academic year identified as black. Photo: Pexels

IIE said that it would be collaborating on “new programs” with the non-profit

Leaders of the Free World, a non-profit aimed at helping black male students in the US develop leadership skills, has partnered with the Center as statistics show that black male students are one of the most underrepresented demographics of those taking part in study abroad.

In the Open Doors report released in November, it was found that just 5.3% of US students who studied abroad in 2021/2 identified as Black.

“It’s imperative that we address the barriers that hinder the participation of young Black men in global leadership and international education. 

“The partnership… will not only shift this narrative but also set a national example for building effective pipelines and engaging these individuals,” said Leaders of the Free World co-founder Lavar Thomas.

In terms of the partnership’s activities, the non-profit will be supporting IIE’s American Passport Project, which helps institutions support first year underrepresented students get their first passports. 

The Center will also support Leaders of the Free World’s Fellowship Program, which already aims to boost black male participation in study abroad programs.

IIE also said that it would be collaborating on “new programs” with the non-profit, and will launch talks, networking receptions and “educational webinars”. 

“Specificity matters. To reach populations that have been historically underrepresented or underserved, we need trusted, culturally competent leaders who can help us to collectively close the gap. 

“We see this partnership as a keen opportunity to accomplish that,” said Lindsay Gee Calvert, director of the IIE Center for Access and Equity.

The partnership is the second since the Center’s inception in early 2023, with first being the liberal arts institution Dickinson College in Pennsylvania.

“The partnership… will not only shift this narrative but also set a national example”

Courtney Temple, IIE’s CAO and executive VP, said the organisation was “brimming with anticipation” about what the partnership could achieve. 

“Our communities possess significant untapped potential, particularly among young Black men, to make meaningful contributions to global leadership,” added Leaders of the Free World board member and retired Peace Corps country director, James T. Ham. 

“Partnering with IIE will enhance our efforts, research, and engagement in international education for a population that has been historically underrepresented.”

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