With the support of our Board of Trustees, the Institute created the IIE Passport Awards in the belief that we need to build a pipeline of students who plan to study abroad when they get to college in order to make “international” be part of every student’s experience.

Study abroad is a life-changing experience for many students, opening their eyes to different ways of life and promoting understanding and tolerance. Research shows that students who study abroad have better grades, more confidence, and are more likely to graduate from college at higher rates than students who do not study abroad.

Most Americans do not have a passport and less than 10% of U.S. undergraduates study abroad prior to graduation. This proportion is much lower for students of color and especially graduates of inner city high schools. This population in particular is usually denied the benefits of study abroad: not only qualitative benefits such as a life-changing experience and a more open-minded attitude but also benefits that are numerically quantifiable, including higher rates of college graduation and higher earning potential.

The program is offered in the six cities where IIE has offices: Chicago, Denver, Houston, New York, San Francisco and Washington, DC. In select circumstances other cities may be considered. IIE invites select organizations who work to empower underserved low-income & minority youth with leadership and global/cross cultural skills to nominate students for an IIE Passport Award.

To date, 26 students have received IIE Passport awards for study abroad. Approximately 70% of the students self-identify as ethnic minorities, 23% are first in their family to go to university, and 75% of them indicated that they speak Spanish.

"Being a recipient of this scholarship has opened a door for me and gives me hope. I hope to have a better understanding of the culture, country, and language in which I study abroad." – Awardee Niambi Smith