Global Ties U.S. Community Impact Study

New study measures the socio-cultural impacts of international exchange programs on U.S. cities and individuals.

The Global Ties U.S. Community Impact Study examines the socio-cultural impacts of international exchange programs on U.S. communities and on the individuals who engage with them here at home. It is the first study of its kind to focus on the domestic impacts of exchange programs and provides a comprehensive assessment of the benefits local people and organizations derive through participating in exchanges like the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP).    

The Global Ties U.S. Community Impact 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.

Specifically, the study showed 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 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.  

The Global Ties U.S. Community Impact Study was led by Cherie Saulter, Ph.D., and builds 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.   

Global Ties U.S. surveyed 679 people from 58 local organizations in 37 states between 2022-2023 for the study. 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.    

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What’s Next 

Phase 2 of the Community Impact Study will take place in 2024. It will encourage even broader engagement by Community-Based Member (CBM) organizations of the Global Ties Network.  

Over time, we expect our findings to point to steady and important 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.