The Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) of the U.S. Department of State fosters mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries to promote friendly, sympathetic, and peaceful relations, as mandated by the Mutual Educational and Cultural Exchanges Act of 1961.
ECA accomplishes its mission through a range of programs based on the benefits of mutual understanding, international educational and cultural exchange, and leadership development. ECA engages youth, students, educators, artists, athletes, and rising leaders in the United States and more than 160 countries through academic, cultural, sports, and professional exchanges, challenging negative perceptions about the United States and reinforcing positive ones. ECA strives to ensure that all programs conducted under its mandate reflect the diversity of the intended audiences. The Bureau aggressively seeks and actively encourages the involvement of American and international participants from traditionally underrepresented groups in all its grants, programs and other activities. These include women, racial and ethnic minorities and people with disabilities.
ECA has over 1 million program alumni around the world, including more than 40 Nobel Laureates and more than 300 current and former heads of state and government.