CIEE's Pledge to Do More for Racial Equality and Social Justice

Authored by:
James P. Pellow, Ed.D.

James P. Pellow, Ed.D.

One month ago, CIEE joined the national outrage at the senseless murder of George Floyd, the centuries of discrimination suffered by millions of Black Americans, and America’s systemic failure to provide justice for every American. We voiced our support for Black Lives Matter, the peaceful protesters across America, and other groups who call for action now. 

We pledged to take a pause from our normal activities to acknowledge that our country suffers from deep-seated hatred and a system of injustice that should not be ignored. We pledged to listen, to learn, and to leverage the means within our organization to do more to affect positive change. We pledged to move beyond rhetoric and take concrete actions at the organization, community, and national level that will advance in measurable ways our vision for a more peaceful, just world.

Consistent with our pledge to take concrete action, we wish to share with you several initiatives that we have taken in the last 30 days.

CIEE Will Expand Our Efforts to Increase Access for Students from Diverse Backgrounds

We will expand our funded scholarship programs that promote access and leadership for Black students and students of color by expanding CIEE’s Frederick Douglass scholarship program in three significant ways:

  1. We will expand the pool of eligible colleges and universities from which we recruit Frederick Douglass Global Fellows beyond the roughly 600 Minority Serving Institutions to include all 4,000 U.S. college and universities. This change will allow more highly qualified and talented students of color to apply for this prestigious award that covers all costs of participation in a summer study abroad program focused on leadership. It will also mean that many more deserving students will be eligible for Frederick Douglass Summer Scholars Grants.
  2. We will establish the Frederick Douglass STEM Scholars and the Frederick Douglass Business Scholars programs to identify talented college students from underrepresented backgrounds and support their participation in study abroad programs focused on science, technology, engineering, math, and business programs, including international internships. Additional details on these scholarships, which will begin in summer 2021, will be announced soon.
  3. In summer 2021, we will expand the Frederick Douglass Global Fellowship program by creating a similar award for high school students. We will design a fully-funded high school summer study abroad program focused on leadership, then recruit a cohort of outstanding high school students from diverse backgrounds who demonstrate Frederick Douglass’ spirit of leadership, passion for social justice, and experience agitating for positive change in our world.

CIEE Will Expand Programming to Address Contemporary Issues of Social Justice and Equality

We have asked our Academic Affairs team to work with our Diversity and Inclusion team to develop new programs that will invite students and faculty to focus on issues of social justice and equality, including critical issues like public policy and the economics of social mobility or immobility, the history and socioeconomic impact of slavery, and comparative community policing and best practices for social harmony and equality.

We also will provide training to all CIEE global staff on techniques to embrace and support the changing demographics of today’s study abroad students. This training program, initially scheduled for 2020, was disrupted by COVID-19 and will be delivered in 2021.

CIEE Will Expand Recruitment of Diverse Staff at All Levels of the Organization

We will ensure that CIEE staff are representative of the communities in which we live and work.  All supervisors and hiring managers will be evaluated on their ability to diversify our staff with highly skilled and talented people of color. Our meaningful progress to diversify staff was significantly impacted by COVID-19 and the restriction of global travel, but we remain resolved to immediately return to this critical initiative as soon as the world begins to heal. Our commitment is to ensure that CIEE has diverse staff at every level of the organization.

CIEE Will Use Our Voice

One of the most impactful ways to advance change in our communities is to support and elect leaders at every level of public service, from City Hall to the State House to Capitol Hill.  We will harness our organization’s ability to influence and elect public officials that genuinely embrace and actively promote justice, harmony, fairness, and sharing the American dream with all Americans, especially Black Americans.

Since our founding in 1947, CIEE has responded to the world’s most challenging points of tension. We have done that with input and advice from our partners and our employees. We continue to need your help and welcome your ideas, suggestions, and reflections. Thank you, in advance, for helping on this important journey.

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