Closing 2020 with Commitment to Access, Inclusion & Diversity

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

James P. Pellow, Ed.D.

We approach the end of 2020 with dual tension, fearing a continued rise in COVID-19 cases, yet feeling increasingly hopeful that the timely arrival of a vaccine will help us turn the page on the global pandemic. This year, our lives were affected by incredible upheaval, including nationwide protests against racial injustices, a global pandemic that suspended life as we knew it, and a hostile national election cycle. But hope is our North Star, and we look forward to a brighter year in 2021.

One hope we at CIEE have for 2021 is that we continue embracing the critical fight against social injustice and racism, issues that can only be addressed through collaboration and a long-term commitment to doing the hard work. In June 2020, CIEE pledged to take concrete steps to chip away at racial injustice and advance in measurable ways our mission to foster harmony and peace in our world. We committed to providing you with updates on our pledge every 30 days for six months because we anticipated that the urgency for positive change that surged in the wake of the death of George Floyd might sadly ebb as time passed.

We have shared monthly reports on our progress on our pledge goals to help more students of color study abroad, to expand our programs and training regarding race and social justice, and to hire more diverse staff at every level of CIEE. In addition, we pledged to use our voice to affect positive change in our world and in our communities. For your reference, those reports can be found here.

Today we share our 180-day update with a special focus on how we will remain true to our pledge as we advance our core mission to build bridges between people from different backgrounds, different countries, and different cultures.


We expanded our funded scholarship programs that promote access and leadership for students of color by expanding CIEE’s Frederick Douglass scholarship programs.

Frederick Douglass Global Fellows are now recruited from all 4,000 U.S. college and universities. The 2021 Fellows will tour Ireland in summer 2021 and be co-sponsored by the Irish Foreign Ministry to celebrate the 175th Anniversary of the meeting between Frederick Douglass and world-renowned Irish abolitionist Daniel O’Connell that occurred during Douglass’s visit to Ireland in 1845.   

Applications for the Frederick Douglass Global Fellowship (FDGF) opened on November 1, 2020. Criteria for the fellowship are found here. The FDGF covers all program and travel costs for ten exceptional student leaders. The deadline to submit applications is February 14, 2021 (Douglass’s adopted birthday.)

Frederick Douglass Summer Scholars (FDSS) Grant is a $1,500 grant that can be applied to the cost of any CIEE summer 2021 program. The FDSS grant is offered to all qualified FDGF applicants who are not selected as Frederick Douglass Global Fellows and recipients may choose from dozens of CIEE programs to advance their academic goals. In addition, many college presidents have demonstrated their commitment to building global competencies in their future alumni by matching the FDSS grant of $1,500 for students at their schools, bringing the total grant to $3,000. 


CIEE’s Academic Affairs and Diversity and Inclusion team have developed a monthly workshop that will be extended to all CIEE global staff focusing on contemporary issues of social justice and diversity, including a review of issues related to race and social justice experienced by students on our programs, as well as a review of trends on U.S. college campuses.

Our most popular course, Intercultural Communication and Leadership, taken by 750 students around the world each year, is receiving a comprehensive curriculum update to include a focus on contemporary issues impacting our students, faculty, and staff.

We are developing new academic courses and programs that 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.

One idea that we received from one of our partner schools is to create a domestic study program that embraces and advances the study of the civil rights movement in our country, similar to the program depicted in AndrĂ© Robert Lee’s deeply emotional film, The Road to Justice, which premiered last month at the CIEE International Education and Exchange Summit.


We have begun to rehire staff for certain programs and 80% of recently hired staff were persons of color. We will continue to seek out highly qualified diverse staff as we grow.


We paused all paid Facebook and Instagram advertising in July 2020 to protest the platforms’ failure to adequately push back on hate and discrimination.

We launched a social media campaign featuring only images that highlight students of color in September 2020. We hope this image-rich campaign will inspire more students of color to study abroad, and more leaders in study abroad to hire and promote students of color.

We offered all U.S. staff to take off election day to allow them to vote in the national election. 

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. Thank you for helping on this important journey.

Share This Post:

Learn More:

Request Information

Related Posts