BCTC Selected to Receive the IIE American Passport Project Grant to Support Underrepresented Students to Study Abroad | BCTC

BCTC Selected to Receive the IIE American Passport Project Grant to Support Underrepresented Students to Study Abroad

Published on Apr 11, 2024

IIE Passport Recipient CardLexington, KY – Bluegrass Community and Technical College (BCTC) has been selected by the Institute of International Education (IIE) to receive an IIE American Passport Project grant that will enable up to 25 BCTC students to obtain their first U.S. passport and open the pathway to study abroad. In its fourth year, IIE awarded fifty-one institutions in the IIENetwork membership for this opportunity, the largest cohort to date. 

A key program under the IIE Center for Access and Equity, the IIE American Passport Project represents IIE’s commitment to creating access to international education opportunities and enabling equity by removing a financial barrier, thereby increasing the diversity and inclusion of students studying abroad. The program prioritizes students early in their higher education experience to allow ample time to go through the passport application and study abroad planning process with advising and support from the awarded institutions. Through the IIE American Passport Project, IIE aims to grant 10,000 U.S. students their passports by the end of this decade. 

The IIE American Passport Project seeks to reach diverse student populations and institutions that serve students who identify within demographics underrepresented in U.S. study abroad or those who often do not obtain a U.S. passport. To date, the program has supported 176 higher education institutions in forty-one states since its inception in 2021. In this fourth cohort, 41% of the institutions represent racial/ethnic minority-serving populations – HBCUs, HSIs, AANAPISIs, and MSIs – or are community colleges. Many of the awarded institutions are focusing on these priority demographics for their respective campuses: first-generation college students, racial/ethnic minorities, students with demonstrated financial need, and students who have never traveled abroad. 

“BCTC was able to create a solid foundation for study abroad by sending over 70 students on innovative international study experiences funded by Innovative Scholarship Pilot supported by the Kentucky state legislature,” said Erin Howard, Associate Dean for Global Learning. “These efforts provided hands on technical and general educational courses focused on building global job skills and exposing students to innovation in a variety of fields abroad. To continue global education efforts, BCTC Global Learning and The Student Success Hub are partnering to include study abroad information during orientation to educate all incoming students. Additionally, a study abroad fair will be held during welcome week this fall followed by a series of workshops focused on helping students apply for funding and effectively plan for their experiences set for Summer 2024 or next academic year 2024-2025,” said Howard. 

“This is a wonderful opportunity for BCTC students to obtain U.S. passports for studying abroad, said Dr. Greg Feeney, BCTC President/CEO. “We are honored to be selected for this project which will help alleviate the financial burden that some students face. Our goal is to enhance our culture of access and success. Grants such as the IIE American Passport Project, cultivate an inclusive learning community and provide support for global experiences. This will be life changing,” said Feeney.

The Institute of International Education (IIE) is the leader in designing and implementing international education strategies and program services. They work with governments, policymakers, educators, and employers across the globe to prepare students and professionals for the global workforce and equip them to solve the increasingly complex challenges facing our interconnected world. With support from donors, they also create initiatives that assist students, scholars, and artists whose lives and work are threatened; expand teaching and learning across cultures; and provide opportunities to underserved populations. A not-for-profit organization founded in 1919, IIE has a network of sixteen offices and affiliates worldwide and over 1,600 higher education partners.

In their work around the world, IIE’s global offices and experienced staff have developed significant expertise, capabilities, and best practices in a set of core areas. Their cutting-edge approaches developed in these fields are formalized in a set of Centers of Excellence: IIE’s Center for International Partnerships and IIE’s Center for Access and Equity. IIE’s Center for Access and Equity aims to advance accessible programming and equitable practices in community building that enrich and expand international education, exchange, and opportunity for all.

The IIENetwork is IIE’s global membership association supporting the strategic advancement of international education. Through the IIENetwork, IIE shares decades of experience and expertise, generates resources, and leverages knowledge and practices with members who are working to strategize and actualize international education efforts, including building international and academic partnerships, recruiting international students, and advocating for study abroad and student mobility.

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