University receives study abroad grant from U.S. Department of State

Office of International Education will launch new, inclusive programs
Abbey Goers | August 4, 2020

University of Wisconsin-Stout has been awarded an IDEAS Grant from the U.S. Department of State’s Capacity Building Program for U.S. Study Abroad.

UW-Stout is one of 24 colleges and universities from across the U.S., selected from 115 applicants, to receive IDEAS, which stands for Increase and Diversify Education Abroad for U.S. Students, in support of U.S. foreign policy goals.

The university will receive approximately $35,000 to create, expand and diversify its study abroad programs.

“When American students study abroad, they support critical U.S. foreign policy goals by building relationships with foreign peers, sharing American culture and values and developing valuable career skills,” said Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs Assistant Secretary Marie Royce in a news release.

“With these international experiences, the next generation of Americans is being equipped with the skills necessary to compete and succeed globally.”

Studying abroad in Thailand and Cuba

IDEAS will fund the launch of the university’s Office of International Education’s new Heritage-Based Faculty-Led study abroad programs, which begin in January 2021 and will continue in 2022 and 2023.

Scott Pierson
OIE Director Scott Pierson / UW-Stout

“We are proud to have received an IDEAS grant to expand our study abroad offerings at UW-Stout. Our heritage-based programs will expand and diversify U.S. study abroad in support of U.S. foreign policy goals,” said OIE Director Scott Pierson.

With destinations in Thailand and Cuba, the programs will focus on exploring heritage, as well as foreign policy goals of democracy and human rights, including refugees and human trafficking.

Grant funding will also support faculty development of the heritage-based programs and site visits.

Advancing diversity and inclusion

The Capacity Building Program fosters international engagement of American students of all backgrounds and builds understanding and critical skills in support of U.S. security and economic competitiveness.

Through IDEAS, UW-Stout will strive for more inclusive study abroad programming by increasing participation among underrepresented students, with a goal to increase retention and recruitment of underrepresented students, faculty and staff.

A disproportionate number of underrepresented students study abroad annually as a percentage of enrollment. According to NAFSA: Association of International Educators, during the 2017-2018 academic year, black students accounted for 13.6% of U.S. postsecondary enrollment, whereas only 6.1% studied abroad. Hispanic/Latino students accounted for 18.9% enrollment during the same academic year; however, only 10.6% studied abroad. 


Student registering at UW-Stout's Study Abroad Fair, September 2019.
Study Abroad Fair / UW-Stout

“Being awarded the IDEAS grant provides the Office of International Education with the critical financial resources necessary to develop intentional study abroad programming aimed at bridging this gap,” Pierson said.

IDEAS is supported by World Learning, an international nonprofit organization that focuses on international development, education and exchange programs.

World Learning and the Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs will continue to highlight UW-Stout’s IDEAS grant via social media using #LaunchIDEASAbroad over the next few weeks.

A list of 2020 IDEAS Grant recipients is featured on the Capacity Building Program for U.S. Study Abroad website at

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