(WASHINGTON, DC) -- Mayor Vincent C. Gray today announced his support for the State Department’s 100,000 Strong Initiative, which will provide critical opportunities for DC Public Schools (DCPS) and DC Public Charter Schools students to study abroad in China.
“This program will provide incredible opportunities for DC public high school students to study abroad in China,” Mayor Gray said. “Traveling to a different country to learn a new culture is an invaluable experience that will only enrich the lives of our young people.”
Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell said, “We are thrilled that Mayor Gray has thrown his support behind 100,000 Strong. We are building momentum each day and getting closer to President Obama’s goal of seeing 100,000 American students study in China over the next four years.”
The 100,000 Strong Initiative was launched by the State Department in 2010 to dramatically increase the number of American students studying abroad in China.
Mayor Gray joins Grammy-winning recording artist will.i.am – front man for The Black Eyed Peas – in backing the program. A major concert featuring will.i.am and other top Chinese and American artists will be held in Beijing in December to raise money for 100,000 Strong. The concert is being organized by Americans Promoting Study Abroad (APSA), which runs full scholarship programs for U.S. high school students studying in Beijing. Seven DCPS students participated in APSA’s 2011 summer.
Participation in 100,000 Strong will enhance and expand local efforts to expose DC students to China and the Chinese language. Students at three DCPS high schools (School Without Walls, Phelps and Wilson) are currently studying Chinese, and students at these and other high schools have traveled to China through study abroad programs such as APSA and the State Department’s National Security Language Initiative for Youth (NSLI-Y).
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton teamed up with will.i.am in July to announce the singer’s support for the initiative. At the meeting, Clinton formally announced that will.i.am would serve as a cultural ambassador for the program.
“I am thrilled that Mayor Gray has gotten behind this amazing program,” will.i.am said. “The value for overseas study is for students to really see the world. How big it is. How diverse. We want to give kids the opportunity to dream.”
In a video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fZyJECPqenM), will.i.am talks about the value of the program.
APSA is working in cooperation with the State Department on 100,000 Strong. Its programs focus on language acquisition, cultural understanding, leadership development and exposure to international careers.
Funds raised in association with the December concert will be used to support and operate study abroad programs in China for underserved American students. The DC Center for Global Education and Leadership (CGEL) will help administer the programs for DC students.
“Mayor Gray, will.i.am and our generous corporate sponsors are bringing us that much closer to meeting the goals of 100,000 Strong,” said APSA Co-Founder Ted Dean. “APSA is proud to partner with a program that will help prepare the next generation of American leaders.”
The 100,000 Strong Initiative is a public-private partnership; to date, private corporate and foundation donors have pledged almost $10 million towards the Initiative. The Chinese government has offered 20,000 scholarships for U.S. students. To learn more about the 100,000 Strong Initiative, visit www.state.gov/100Kstrong.