IIE Center for Access and Equity Enters Partnership to Boost Black Male Student Participation in Study Abroad

The Center Will Collaborate With U.S.-based Nonprofit, Leaders of the Free World, to Reach the Historically Underrepresented Demographic

NEW YORK, November 27, 2023 —The IIE Center for Access and Equity, in pursuit of its mission to support more equitable access to international education among underrepresented communities, today unveiled an all-new partnership with Leaders of the Free World , a United States-based nonprofit organization specializing in global leadership development for Black male students in higher education. The Center follows a community-building model, enlisting institutions and individuals across the field to develop practices and programming that equitably expand access to international education, exchange, and opportunity for all.   

Only 5% of U.S. students studying abroad identified as Black in the 2021/22 academic year (⁠Open Doors, 2023). Nationally, 36% of the Black college-aged population of 18- to 24-year-olds enrolled in college in the U.S. in 2020 (⁠National Center for Education Statistics, 2022). Further, college enrollment among 18- to 24-year-old males decreased from 38% to 36% between 2010 and 2020. Black female college enrollment rates have also outpaced Black male enrollment in seven of the last eleven years, according to the same sources.

In the new partnership, the Center and LFW will enhance and support existing and new programming and activities — such as the Center’s American Passport Project and LFW’s Fellowship Program — aimed at increasing study-abroad participation among Black men in college or university. In addition, the organizations will convene subject matter experts with the students through talks, small networking receptions, and educational webinars, as well as explore research collaborations. In addition, IIE will sponsor a student and personnel to the LFW Fellowship and Mentorship programs.

Amplifying and partnering with organizations that have expertise in and relationships with the underrepresented populations we’re seeking to better serve is critical to IIE’s commitment to advocating for access and equity in the field of international education. I am brimming with anticipation as IIE merges its international education expertise and global network of 10,000 international education professionals with Leaders of the Free World’s cutting-edge leadership and study abroad programming and strong network of global, Black male leaders.”

Courtney Temple, Executive Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer of IIE

“It’s imperative that we address the barriers that hinder the participation of young Black men in global leadership and international education. The partnership between Leaders of the Free World and IIE’s Center for Access and Equity 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.

“Our communities possess significant untapped potential, particularly among young Black men, to make meaningful contributions to global leadership,” said James T. Ham, Leaders of the Free World Board Member and Retired Peace Corps Country Director. “Partnering with IIE will enhance our efforts, research, and engagement in international education for a population that has been historically underrepresented. Leaders of the Free World looks forward to the impact this collaboration will have on our students and partners across the country.”

“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,” added Lindsay Gee Calvert, Director of the IIE Center for Access and Equity.

Founded by Ruby Maddox and Lavar Thomas, LFW takes a three-pronged approach to its mission:

  1. Impactful International Experiences: LFW provides transformative experiences that broaden perspectives and empower young Black men to become global leaders.
  2. Leadership Development: The LFW program s foster leadership skills, self-awareness, and a global mindset, equipping participants with the tools they need to succeed in an interconnected world.
  3. Diversity in Global Leadership: LFW is committed to diversifying the global leadership landscape by providing access to resources and opportunities for young Black men to become engaged in international education and experiences, ultimately contributing to a more inclusive and equitable future.

This is the IIE Center for Access and Equity’s second formal partnership; the first was with Dickinson College, which focuses on the creation of mutually beneficial learning opportunities for participants, organizations, and countries. Models of Change: Equity and Inclusion in Action in International Education, the Center’s joints publication with Dickinson, was released in October. The publication provides practical guidance for higher education professionals seeking to build inclusive, equitable, and sustainable communities within their institutions and among the populations they serve. In July 2023, the Center’s American Passport Project — a grant aiming to assist 10,000 Pell-eligible U.S. students to obtain U.S. passports to study abroad by the end of the decade — received a 2023 AAUA Khaladjan International Award for Innovation in Higher Education. IIE announced the all-new IIE Center for Equity and Access in March 2023 to formalize and expand its DEIA Commitment in the international education field.

About Leaders of the Free World

Leaders of the Free World (LFW) is an international experience and leadership development program for young Black men. Our mission is to develop dynamic leaders who are globally minded, self-aware, and service-driven. The LFW program is comprised of two parts: an eight-month-long LFW Fellowship that incorporates a trip to Ghana, West Africa, with a virtual leadership development program, and the Global Leadership Pipeline consortium, a national ongoing initiative focusing on providing access to global opportunities and diversifying the global leadership landscape for Black men across U.S. institutions.

About the IIE Center for Access and Equity

The IIE Center for Access and Equity aims to advance accessible programming and equitable practices in community building that enrich and expand international education, exchange, and opportunity for all. Through dialogue and action, the Center leverages programs and partnerships that examine the intersection of international education with diversity, equity, inclusion, and access; cultivates global learning to support engagement and understanding of individuals and communities; and supports access for underrepresented communities by examining and addressing structural inequities. Learn more at www.iie.org/CAE.

About the Institute of International Education

The Institute of International Education (IIE) is the leader in designing and implementing international education strategies and program services. We work with governments, policymakers, educators, and employers across the globe to prepare students and professionals for the global workforce and equip them to solve the increasingly complex challenges facing our interconnected world. With support from donors, we also create initiatives that assist students, scholars, and artists whose lives and work are threatened; expand teaching and learning across cultures; and provide opportunities to underserved populations. A not-for-profit organization founded in 1919, IIE has an extensive network of offices and affiliates worldwide and over 1,600 higher education partners. Learn more at www.iie.org

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