Announcements / August 31, 2023

First-Ever Global Ties U.S. Community Impact Study Measures the Value of International Exchange for U.S. Citizens

The Washington, DC-based nonprofit Global Ties U.S. is pleased to announce the publication of our Global Ties U.S. Community Impact Study, a unique data-driven analysis of the socio-cultural impacts of exchange programs like the U.S. Department of State-sponsored International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) on U.S. communities and citizens. The study found that participating in international exchanges increases global knowledge and cultural competence, encourages civic engagement, deepens community inclusion, strengthens international connectivity, and generates economic impact and workforce development in U.S. communities.     

While past evaluations of international exchange programs have focused on the many benefits for international visitors, the Global Ties U.S. Community Impact Study, carried out between 2022-2023, is the first of its kind to focus on whether local people and organizations who meet with international exchange participants derive benefits from that experience, and if so, in what ways. Global Ties U.S. surveyed 679 people from 58 local organizations in 37 states for the study. The survey respondents represented every region of the United States, from small towns to mega-cities, and included a wide range of respondents from large and small nonprofits and local organizations with decades of combined experience hosting international visitors through exchange programs. 

Specifically, the Global Ties U.S. Community Impact Study revealed that:  

  • International exchange programs humanize global affairs for U.S. citizens and inspire curiosity about the world, with more than 80% of survey respondents reporting increases in global knowledge and cultural competence. 
  • U.S. participation in international exchange programs encourages local civic engagement and deepens community inclusion, with 77% of respondents reporting greater interest in participating in local events or activities sponsored by groups by representing a national heritage different from their own.  
  • Engaging with international visitors provides U.S. communities with opportunities for economic growth and workforce development, with 80% of respondents agreeing that exchange programs enhanced the image of their community, and 77% reporting gains to their organization or personal reputation. 
  • U.S. participation in exchange programs provides greater international connectivity, with almost one in three respondents (32%) reporting that they have stayed in touch with international contacts they made through participating in international exchanges. 

Global Ties U.S. President and CEO Katherine Brown, Ph.D., said of the study: “With this data, we’re excited to provide a deeper look at why exchanges matter economically and socio-culturally for U.S. communities. Prior Global Ties Network surveys have indicated the economic impact international exchange has here at home. Global Ties Network members most recently reported a 5:1 return on the investment made in their communities through federal exchange programs. This study provides the first comprehensive assessment of the benefits for U.S.-based international exchange practitioners and their communities. It is an invaluable resource for U.S. cities and states, donors, Members of Congress, the U.S. Department of State, and community stakeholders.” 

The Global Ties U.S. Community Impact Study was led by Cherie Saulter, Ph.D., and built upon preliminary findings from a February 2023 study carried out in partnership with the University of Southern California’s Center on Public Diplomacy. Research was funded by the U.S. Department of State and implemented by Global Ties U.S. in collaboration with local Community-Based Members (CBMs) across the United States.   

For more than 60 years, Global Ties U.S. has led the Network of 90+ nonprofit organizations that provide the domestic infrastructure for IVLP and other U.S. public diplomacy activities. As local hubs for global engagement, these nonprofits connect international leaders with their U.S. counterparts and create relationships and opportunities that have real benefits in their communities.  

Global Ties U.S. will conduct a second phase of the Global Ties U.S. Community Impact Study in 2024, encouraging even broader engagement by members of the Global Ties Network. Over time, we expect our findings to point to steady indications of local impact of international exchanges, underscoring the value of these programs in building both stronger alliances globally and stronger communities here at home.    

Read the study HERE.


More Information 

Global Ties U.S. powers individuals, communities, and nations to build trust and advance peace and prosperity through international exchange. It is a nonprofit partner of the U.S. Department of State and supports a community-based network of 90+ nonprofit organizations serving all 50 U.S. states. Global Ties U.S. members are exchange professionals who provide the domestic infrastructure for U.S. public diplomacy efforts, implementing the International Visitor Leadership Program and a wide variety of educational, cultural, and professional exchange programs.