2018 was a powerful year for AFS. Working together with donors, partners, schools and local organizations in 99 countries, AFS delivered on our three strategic impact goals: Develop active global citizens, Increase access to intercultural learning opportunities, and Globalize schools and institutions to expand our reach and be more diverse, inclusive and relevant to the communities we serve.
- We raised more funds for scholarships: $36.7 million to 41% of students in 2018.
- We connected with 66,371 people through exchange programs, intercultural training workshops and social impact projects in schools and local communities.
- We amplified our international advocacy work by launching an annual AFS Global Conference in Budapest in September. The conference attracted a cross-sector coalition of 450+ delegates from 70 countries with a singular purpose: Integrate global competence education into schools and youth programs.
Year One of our new strategy also compelled us to take a hard look at how international exchange programs can better support young changemakers’ dreams of doing social good. We know that innovation and creativity rarely happen when everyone comes to the table with the same point of view. So we laid the groundwork with a new Theory of Change that defines how we develop active global citizens. (See page 5.) This approach ensures that all of our programs develop the key intercultural skills urgently needed to bring people together and get work done—even when differences in cultures, religions, identity, and perspectives often keep us apart.
These are the competencies that leaders across the public and private sectors require to build stronger, more inclusive schools, companies, NGOs and communities. These skills also engage experts and funders with communities to solve the challenges presented in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
Many thanks to our strategic partners for supporting our vision. To name just one example, working with Japan’s Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology (MEXT) enabled us to launch the Asia Kakehashi Project in 2018. For the first time ever, high school students from many Asian countries including Laos, Myanmar, and Pakistan participated in an AFS program. In the next five years, this program will provide full scholarships for 1,000 Asian high school students to study in Japan with AFS. You will read about other significant partnerships we made throughout the pages of this Annual Report.
One hundred years after the end of World War I, we reflected on the legacy of our founders, the volunteer ambulance drivers of the American Field Service. AFS was created as a volunteer ambulance corps in 1915 and then reactivated after the start of World War II. Our founders crossed borders and connected cultures to save thousands of lives during both World Wars—and then transformed AFS into what it is today: a global organization that builds understanding among people from diverse backgrounds to create a more just and peaceful world.
We express our sincere gratitude to all AFS alumni, volunteers and staff around the world whose work champions AFS values and makes the programs and activities featured in this Annual Report possible.