In 2017, world events compelled AFS to adopt an urgent new agenda that addressed this major challenge:

How can AFS best promote our learning-to-live-together agenda when nations are closing borders, communities are more divided and access to basic education opportunities remains problematic?

Guided by our mission, AFS launched an ambitious strategy to better leverage our global network and maximize our impact in the 98  countries where we work and offer programs.  Our mandate:

Empower people of all ages and all backgrounds with the intercultural knowledge, skills and understanding required to take action and make a positive difference wherever they live, study, work and volunteer.

Although demanding, the transformation process to become an even more impact-driven international education organization was enlightening. Our network-wide collaboration re-energized our work in four action areas: programs, education, volunteerism and advocacy.  We then focused the impact we want to make into three powerful mission-driven goals:

  • Develop active global citizens to take action in their communities and around the world.
  • Globalize schools and institutions to deliver effective intercultural learning programs that lead to global competence.
  • Expand access to intercultural education through scholarships and community outreach.

Throughout this journey to define the future of AFS we were:

  • Inspired that two-thirds of young people surveyed in 20 countries want to contribute to  society, and many believe eradicating  prejudice is critical (Varkey Foundation).  These are the young people we want to help take their first steps as global citizens.
  • Encouraged that global competence is increasingly considered an essential “power skill.” In fact, AFS forums on four continents validated that intercultural skills are in demand by employers worldwide.
  • Motivated by working with more than 5,000 schools, recognized by Education Ministries in 24 countries and partnering with organizations such as UNESCO, OECD, Teach For All, Purdue University, BP and many other corporations, foundations and community organizations. These alliances and sponsorships help accelerate the AFS mission.

Our impact goals also demonstrate our commitment to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, especially Goal #4 Quality Education and Goal #16 Peace, Justice & Strong Institutions. We invite you to help us promote intercultural understanding in support of these goals by signing the AFS Declaration of Accra at

Thank you to our allies, sponsors and the AFS global community of more than one million doers, thinkers and givers for helping the world learn to live together.

Vishakha Desai (AFS ’67) Chair, Board of Trustees
Daniel Obst President and CEO