Newswise — Washington, D.C., Jan. 24, 2013 – Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, as part of her ongoing commitment to the US-China relationship, on Thursday announced the creation of the 100,000 Strong Foundation to enhance and expand opportunities for US students to learn Mandarin and study in China.

The 100,000 Strong Foundation is a new non-profit effort, housed in American University’s School of International Service in Washington, DC. Its mission is to strengthen the US-China strategic relationship through study abroad.

The Foundation was borne out of a US State Department Initiative of a similar name – the 100,000 Strong Initiative – that was first announced by President Barack Obama in 2009. Secretary Clinton launched the initiative in 2010. The effort has been backed by the Chinese government, which is offering 20,000 scholarships for Americans to study in China. The 100,000 Strong Foundation understands that the future of the US-China strategic relationship rests with our young people.

“Relationships between nations are rooted in the relationships between their people. And here, we are counting on the American and Chinese people to contribute to the enduring nature of this consequential relationship,” Secretary Clinton said. “I believe that the more Chinese and American people learn about each other – as students and scholars, as innovators and entrepreneurs, as artists and athletes, as members of two great, rich, and distinct cultures – the more resilient our relationship can be.”

“Studying abroad in China is life-changing,” said Carola McGiffert, president of the 100,000 Strong Foundation. “It opens eyes and doors to the future. American youth return from China with new friendships and the cultural and professional skills to succeed in the global economy.”

The 100,000 Strong Foundation was established through the generous support of the Ford Foundation and the Florence Fang Family Foundation. It is governed by an eleven-member board of US-China experts, scholars, philanthropists and business executives who are committed to the Foundation’s mission.

“American University shares the mission of the 100,000 Strong Foundation to expand and enhance opportunities for students from the United States to learn Mandarin and study abroad in China,” said James M. Goldgeier, dean of American University’s School of International Service and member of the advisory council. “The School of International Service is proud to serve as the global hub for this important endeavor. Study abroad plays an important role at American University and the School of International Service where more than 80 percent of undergraduate students and more than 40 percent of graduate students study or work abroad.”

Leeanne Dunsmore, American University’s School of International Service’s associate dean, enrollment management & program development, who serves on the 100,000 Strong Foundations’ board of directors said, "Additionally, the School of International Service is a leader in graduate study abroad with over 60 percent of our graduate students taking advantage of opportunities abroad. Our new agreement with Peking University will allow our graduate students to enroll directly in their school of international studies."

“The Ford Foundation is honored to support the 100,000 Strong Foundation,” said Luis Ubiñas, the president of the Ford Foundation. “Through the Foundation, we are able to invest in our young people and make a long-term, sustained commitment to the US-China relationship.”

“The US-China strategic partnership is of vital importance and must be cultivated,” said Kurt Campbell, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific affairs. “The 100,000 Strong Foundation will enable us to build relationships and to deepen our understanding of one another; it will help us confront and meet our shared challenges.”