CIEE Awards Arizona State University $1 Million Grant To Lead Change in Study Abroad

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Matching grant will support ASU Early Start Global Accelerator Program 

CIEE has selected Arizona State University (ASU) as one of four nationally recognized institutions of higher education to receive $1 million in matching grants over four years to establish new study abroad programs that will advance institutional goals while improving student outcomes.

ASU’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences will enhance its 10-year investment in early-start student success programming to launch the ASU Early Start Global Accelerator Program for high-risk, first-year students. ASU seeks to increase student retention, accelerate graduation rates, improve student efficacy measures, and enhance student success measures for an estimated 660 students who will participate in the program over the next five years. 

“Study abroad is one of the most transformational college experiences that supports student retention and persistence to graduation,” said ASU executive vice president and university provost Nancy Gonzales. “For these reasons, ASU has made it our priority to expand access to study abroad opportunities, as it has historically been accessible only to students from higher income families. This grant from CIEE, which we are proud to match, will help ASU advance our charter commitment to making impactful university experiences accessible to all.”

The ASU Early Start Accelerator Program (Early Start) was established in 2014 in The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (The College) to assist students in their transition to college, measured by increasing retention for first-year, at risk students, and increasing 6-year graduation rates.  Each year, ASU analyses data from Early Start initiatives and adjusts program specifics to increase impact.  In 2024, ASU will add an international program element to Early Start, the ASU Early Start Global Accelerator Program.

The ASU Early Start Global Accelerator Program will pilot in summer 2025 with 60 ASU high-risk freshman attending an 8-day program in Monteverde, Costa Rica. ASU will entirely fund the pilot program. Following the pilot year, the Early Start Global Accelerator Program will be expanded to 150 students each year and funding will be shared by ASU and CIEE as part of the Leading Change in Study Abroad Challenge. 

The program will have three goals: 1) to improve first-year student retention, 2) to engage first-year students with an intense experience on environmental sustainability and culture in the world-renowned cloud forest of Costa Rica, and 3) to serve as an institutional model of student success for Early Start initiatives in all ASU colleges.  

“We are excited to partner with CIEE and the College on this exciting program that aligns with ASU’s charter. It will be transformational for students," said ASU global education director, Noah Rost. " We hope that more students will take advantage of the opportunity to study abroad so they can not only learn in new countries, but also experience different cultures.” 

Announced in November 2023 at the 76th Annual CIEE Study Abroad conference in Paris, CIEE’s Pledge to Lead Change in Study Abroad seeks to show how a well-designed international exchange program can improve college enrollments, student retention rates, student graduation rates, and perhaps most importantly, enhance student employability and economic mobility. 

From a pool of 21 outstanding proposals from institutions across the United States, Arizona State University, Borough of Manhattan Community College, Northeastern University, and UC San Diego were selected for their proposed bold study abroad programs that advance institutional goals and improve student outcomes.

Each of the four winners pledged to match CIEE’s $1 million grant resulting in a total of $8 million in funding over four years for students to study abroad in Africa, the Middle East, Asia, Australia, Latin America, the Caribbean, and Europe.

The four colleges chosen will launch national models of international education programs by showing how study abroad programs can:

  • Advance Both Institutional and Student Success Goals – including advancing their enrollment strategy, improving student retention, increasing graduation rates, and providing students with skills and competencies that enhance their career aspirations;
  • Expand Access to Students From all Backgrounds and Academic Majors – including Pell-eligible, first-generation, men, scientists, engineers, and other non-traditional student groups; and
  • Improve Our World Through Impactful Student Engagement Abroad - including programs that enhance student success while helping to serve the broader needs of our global community like climate change, public health, and refugees.

“ASU’s Early Start Global Accelerator Program accomplishes all three goals of the Leading Change in Study Abroad Challenge, and we look forward to working with ASU leadership over the next four years to help them implement their bold vision,” said James P. Pellow, Ed.D., President and CEO of CIEE


Arizona State University

About Arizona State University
Arizona State University has developed a new model for the American Research University, creating an institution that is committed to access, excellence and impact. ASU measures itself by those it includes, not by those it excludes. As the prototype for a New American University, ASU pursues research that contributes to the public good, and ASU assumes major responsibility for the economic, social and cultural vitality of the communities that surround it.

About CIEE 
CIEE builds bridges between different people, different countries, and different cultures. For 75 years, we have helped young people participate in high-quality international exchange and study abroad programs that bring the world together. We change lives, our alumni change the world. Learn more at


Media contact: Leslie Taylor,, (207)553-4274