The financial commitment will support 10 students a year to study in the country through the scholarship programme.
US Secretary of State, John Kerry, said that this effort is “exactly what we need to be doing in this shrinking world”.
“I’ll bet you this sets an example to other companies that need to be engaged in similar efforts”
“We are really proud and grateful to have Airbnb as our partner in this effort in order to help people to be able to go overseas and study,” he said.
This year, the Benjamin Gilman International Scholarship Program will award over 2,800 scholarships of up to $5,000 each for US undergraduate students to study abroad, or carry out an internship overseas.
The programme aims to support those who are traditionally underrepresented in study abroad, for example, those with a high financial need, and those studying underrepresented subjects, such as engineering.
Further awards are offered for those studying one of 14 ‘critical need’ languages overseas totalling up to $8,000. The languages include Swahili, Arabic and Korean.
Airbnb’s commitment to the scholarship programme was initially announced in June at the US-China Consultation on People-to-People Exchange, as part of a number of initiatives to further collaboration between the two countries. It was also announced here that the 100,000 Strong Foundation rebranded.
In a blog post after the consultation in June, Airbnb said that it will be making a “financial contribution” to help the scholarship programme, “to help young American Gilman Scholars study abroad in China and gain a deeper cultural experience that will last a lifetime”.
The post added: “From San Francisco, to Seoul, to Paris, to Africa and the Middle East, we’ve seen how amazing experiences and lasting friendships can arise when people from different cultures come together, and we’re honoured to support this kind of direct people-to-people diplomacy.”
According to IIE’s Open Doors report, 304,467 US students studied abroad in 2013/14. However, only 4.5% of these students went to China (13,763). This was also a decrease of 650 students from the year before.
“With [Airbnb’s] backing, we’re now going to be able to send an additional number of students [to China],” said Kerry.
“But importantly, I’ll bet you this sets an example to other companies that need to be engaged in similar efforts.”