SaveFulbright was initiated in March 2014 as an independent, web-based, grassroots initiative of concerned Fulbright alumni from all over the world, spearheaded by Yussi Pick, a Fulbright alum from Austria, and dedicated to lobbying for a restoration of the $ 30 M cut to the Fulbright Program budget in 2015. It was the first truly global Fulbright alumni campaign.
- Over 27,000 signatories from 130 countries – 60% come from the US
- 40% come from the rest of the world, with a lot of activity from France, Malaysia, Germany, Austria, Chile, Czech Republic, Netherlands, Pakistan, Russia, Spain, Colombia and the UK
- Over 40 news stories related to the SaveFulbright intiatitive have appeared various media (see below).
- Collected over 500 stories about how Fulbrighters impacted their communities abroad and at home
- For an update on the status of Congressional deliberations regarding the restoration of Fulbright Program funding by the Alliance for International Educational and Cultural Exchange click here.
What the media says about the SaveFulbright initiative
The Pie News, “Fulbright Faces ‘Inexplicable’ $30mn Cut”, Beckie Smith, March 14, 2014
Inside Higher Ed, “Save Fulbright”, Elisabeth Redden, March 24, 2014
Slate, “Don’t Extinguish Fubright”, Rebecca Schuman, March 26, 2014
New Republic, “Don’t Cut the Fulbright! Its Benefits are Immense “, Eve Fairbanks, March 28, 2014
The Washington Post, “Fulbright’s value in international relations scholarship”, Jarrod Hayes, April 2, 2014
The Huffington Post, “#SaveFulbright: America Can’t Cut the Fulbright Program”, Jonathan Rice, April 2, 2014
The Washington Post, “Nigeria’s Islamist insurgency & the value of Fulbright research” Brandon Kendhammer, April 14, 2014
The Arkansas News, “Fulbright biographer opposes federal cuts to scholarship program”, Peter Urban, April 18, 2014
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, “Obama Wants to Cut Fulbright Program”, Sarah D. Wire, April 21, 2014
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, “Save the Fulbrights”, April 23, 2014
Townhall.com, “Save the Fulbrights”, Paul Greenberg, April 24, 2014
The Providence Journal, “Protect the Fulbright Program”, April 26, 2014
The Chicago Maroon, “Proposed Fulbright Cuts Garner Opposition”, Andrew Ahn, April 29, 2014
The Chronicle of Higher Education, “The Fulbright Program: Too Remarkable to Be Cut”, University of Arkansas Chancellor G. David Gearhart, May 5, 2014
The Nation Institute’s TomDispatch.com blog, “Washington’s Pivot to Ignorance: Will the State Department Torpedo Its Last Great Program?” or “How to Lose Friends and Influence No One (The State Department Way)”, Ann Jones, May 8, 2014
The Nation, “Will the State Department Torpedo its Last Great Program?”
The Huffington Post, “Washington’s Pivot to Ignorance”
Commondreams, “How to Lose Friends and Influence No One (The State Department Way)”
Truthout, “Washington’s Pivot to Ignorance: Will the State Department Torpedo its Last Great Program?”
Mother Jones, “The Fulbright Program Is the Flagship of American Cultural Diplomacy. So Why Are We Cutting It?”
Smirking Chimp, “How to Lose Friends and Influence No One (The State Department Way)”
War is a Crime, “Washington’s Pivot to Ignorance: Will the State Department Torpedo its Last Great Program?”
War in Context, “How to Lose Friends and Influence No One (The State Department Way)”
Gorilla Radio blog, “Staying in the Dark: State’s Abandonment of the Fulbright Program”
Unz Review, “Washington’s Pivot to Ignorance”
Daily Kos, “How to Lose Friends and Influence No One (The State Department Way)”
OpEd News, “How to Lose Friends and Influence No One (The State Department Way)”
Fire Dog Lake, “How to Lose Friends and Influence No One (The State Department Way)”
Progressive Radio Network, “Will the State Department Torpedo its Last Great Program?”
Informed Comment, “Washington Militarizes Foreign Policy, but cuts Fulbright Cultural Exchange”
Middle East Online, “Save the Fulbright”
Le Monde Diplomatique, “Washington’s Pivot to Ignorance”
Salon, “International Disaster in the Making: Inside Obama’s under-the-radar plan to eviscerate the Fulbright program”
Bill Moyers, “Why Are We Cutting the Fulbright Program?”
PublicDiplomacyCouncil.org, “Will Someone Stand Up?”, Brian Carlson, May 12, 2014
Deutsche Welle, “Cuts Could Cripple US Flagship Exchange Program”, Michael Knigge, May 16, 2014
Whirled View, “It Works! The Fulbright Program Deserves More Support, Not Less”, Patricia Lee Sharp, May 16, 2014
Al-Jazeera America, “Fulbright and the decline of America’s cultural diplomacy”, Karen Attiah, June 4, 2014
The Boston Globe, “Fulbright Funding Folly”, Robert Strong and Harry Laver, June 10, 2014
The Society for US Intellectual History’s US Intellectual History Blog, “Save the Fulbright”, Andrew Hartman, June 10, 2014
Inside Higher Education, “In Appropriations Bills, Fulbright Program Spared”, June 20, 2014
The American Security Project, “#SaveFulbright: Senate Subcommittee Rejects Fulbright Budget Cuts”, Thomas Campbell, June 23, 2014
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, “Fulbright Grants get Boost in Bills”, Sarah D. Wire, June 24, 2014
Atlantic-Community.org, “As Fulbright Shrinks, so too Does US Investment in Transatlantic Relations“, Megan Doherty, August 14, 2014
Huffingtonpost.com, “A Fulbright Is Not a Political Football“, Tara Sonenshine (former Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs), September 26, 2014
#SaveFulbright: A Timeline
March 4: Obama Administration publishes FY 2015 budget proposal with a 13.5%, $ 30 million funding cut for the Fulbright Program ($ 234 M to $ 204 M) designed to reallocate funds for short-term regional programming in Africa and Asia.
March 5: Alliance for International Education and Cultural Exchange “Policy Monitor” posts information on the 1.6% increase in the State Department’s international education budget (by $ 9.2 M to $ 572.9 M) in the FY 2015 budget and notes the cut in Fulbright funding in the ECA budget in the line item analysis of the Educational and Cultural Exchange budget.
March 10: Lonnie R. Johnson, director of the Austrian Fulbright Commission, goes on-line with “Save Fulbright: Lobby 2015”: an open letter analysis of the implications of the budget cut, tips on lobbying, and a call to action for the international Fulbright community. Posts about Save Fulbright are made on twitter, Facebook, and google plus, and advocates are encouraged to use the #SaveFulbright hashtag on social media.
March 12: Johnson meets with Yussi Pick, an Austrian Fulbright alumnus and media and communications expert, and Pick suggests the establishment of an independent, grass roots, alumni-based and funded, online advocacy and petition platform: SaveFulbright.org.
March 14: The Pie News, a UK based on-line international education journal, reports of the Save Fulbright initiative.
March 19: Yussi Pick brings www.SaveFulbright.org on-line at 14:00 CET with a complete online petition, database, lobbying resources, and e-mail follow-up structure.
SaveFulbright.org reaches out to 49 binational Fulbright commissions and to over 100 chapters and subchapters of national Fulbright alumni associations worldwide to solicit their support.
Within 24 hours, over 5000 people have signed on.
March 24: Inside Higher Ed is the first US media to report on “Save Fulbright”
March 25: The initiative reaches 10,000 signatures
March 27: SaveFulbright.org emails Fulbright alumni who have signed the petition with the request that they share their Fulbright story. They receive over 400 stories in less than 24 hours.
March 28: Alumni stories go online on www.Savefulbright.org/stories
April 4: The House begins deliberations on the FY 2015 federal budget proposal. SaveFulbright.org petition has 18,890 signatures (13:00 CET).
April 7: The Savefulbright.org petition reaches 20,000 signatures
May 22: SaveFulbright.org drafts letter templates to encourage US petition signatories to lobby the State-Foreign Operations (SFOP) Appropriations Subcommittees in the House of Representatives and the Senate to restore the Fulbright Program budget and emails US signatories with a plea to write their senators and members of congress, particularly those on SFOP, and includes a template for doing so.
June 16: The House of Representatives State-Foreign Operations (SFOP) Appropriations Subcommittee releases a bill calling for the restoration of Fulbright program funding requesting “not less than $236,974 million . . . for the Fulbright Program, . . .”
June 19: The Senate State-Foreign Operations (SFOP) Appropriations Subcommittee proposes $590.77 million for Department of State international exchange programs in FY15. This funding number is a $22 million (or 3.9%) increase over both the current FY14 level and the House FY15 proposed level (released on June 16), and $12.87 million over the President’s FY15 request, according to an update by the Alliance for International and Cultural Exchange
The language in the Senate bill is emphatic about the importance of restoring funding for the Fulbright Program: “The Committee does not support the proposed $30,466,000 reduction to the Fulbright Program, including the Humphrey Fellowship Program, and the act provides sufficient funds to avoid such reduction. The Committee notes that in recent years the Department of State has justified reductions to one-way exchanges with a specific regional focus on the grounds that the Fulbright Program offers bi-directional exchanges with greater flexibility and strong country and university support. Yet in the fiscal year 2015 budget request the Department proposes to reduce the Fulbright Program to fund region-specific exchanges. This reversal indicates a lack of long-term planning.”
June 24: The full House Appropriations Committee marks up its FY15 State-Foreign Operations (SFOP) bill, reflecting what was included in the bill text marked up by the SFOP subcommittee the previous week: a flat overall funding level for exchanges, and funding levels for the Fulbright Program, the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP), and Citizen Exchanges that are increases over FY14 levels, as opposed to President Obama’s proposed cuts.
The draft House report language for State Department exchange programs makes clear that the House Appropriations Committee does not support a reduction of “core academic, professional and cultural exchange program funding by over $30,000,000 in order to support new and expanded program initiatives, as proposed in the request,” but that it does support those exchanges if funded from other sources. Paired with the Senate language that specifically supports and funds the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) and the Young South-East Asian Leaders Initiative (Y-SEALI), this House language helps to create a situation in which these new initiatives could receive additional funding in conference. (Source: Alliance for International Educational and Cultural Exchange Policy Monitor)
August 4: Congress begins five week summer recess. According to the Alliance for International Education Policy Monitor, the conclusion of federal budget negotiations before the November 2014 federal elections appears unlikely.