History

Our Founding Members:

The following organizations are BBC Founding Sponsors. They have made major financial contributions to support the work of the Building Bridges Coalition over a multiyear period. We are indebted to these organizations for the BBC’s past accomplishments and grateful to them for their continuing support.

 

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Our History:

Photography by Ralph Alswang 202-487-5025 ralswang@aol.com www.ralphphoto.com PLEASE CREDIT:Ralph AlswangThe Building Bridges Coalition was born out of the Brookings Institution Initiative on International Volunteering & Service. In 2005, Brookings scholar Lex Rieffel was researching the image of the US abroad and the effect of various US Government policies to improve perception of the US around the world. From his research, Lex concluded that programs like Peace Corps that engage US citizens in service around the world delivered the greatest impact for the money spent. In several Brookings policy briefs, Lex recommended “soft power” or “smart power” policies to get more US citizens engaged in volunteer projects abroad.

In June 2006, Brookings hosted a meeting with stakeholders in the field of international volunteering. General Colin Powell challenged those present to take international service to a new level. In December 2006, the Brookings Initiative on International Volunteering and Service held its first major policy forum. Representatives from the academic, corporate, government and non-profit sectors gathered together and committed to the goal of scaling up international volunteering. You can watch a video from the forum on International Volunteer Day in 2006 (Dec. 5, 2006).

BBC quickly grew to more than 300 member organizations. Initially five working groups were created to focus on effective practices, increasing public awareness, energizing campus and corporate engagement, and advocating for public policy initiatives.

In 2008-2009, BBC joined the grassroots campaign that won the passage of the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act. This legislation boosted international volunteering by authorizing the Volunteers for Prosperity program.

The first chairman of the BBC Board of Directors was Steve Rosenthal, founder and CEO of Cross-Cultural Solutions (2006-2012). The second chairman was Matt Clausen, Vice President of Partners of the Americas (2012-2014). The current chairman is David Caprara, Nonresident Fellow at the Brookings Institution.