What do visionaries, philanthropists and entrepreneurs have in common? They were all students once.
At EF Education First, we believe every learner has the potential to change the world—but first, they need to experience it. For more than five decades, we’ve partnered with educators to translate this vision into meaningful international opportunities. And together, we’ve turned the world into a classroom for millions of students, inspiring the kind of global mindset our future depends on. On February 8, 2019, in the presence of more than 850 U.S. leaders and public education supporters, EF was honored to be recognized by the NEA Foundation for our contributions to public education and global learning.
Following in the footsteps of educational game-changers, including former President Bill Clinton, Mister Fred Rogers, Billie Jean King and Sesame Street Workshops, EF was named the 2019 recipient of the NEA Foundation’s highest honor—The First National Bank of Omaha Award for Outstanding Service to Public Education. The award was presented at the Foundation’s annual Salute to Excellence in Education Gala in Washington, D.C. Among the evening’s fellow honorees were 46 of America’s most dedicated public school educators, who were nominated by their peers for teaching excellence.
“We are honored to accept this award tonight on behalf of our 52,000 EF colleagues working from our 600 schools and offices in over 100 countries,” said EF Foundation for Foreign Study Chairman Goran Rannefors in his acceptance speech. “Thank you to the NEA Foundation for this wonderful honor, and thank you to every educator in the room and across the country who keep global learning front-of-mind. After all, everyone in this room knows that among the most effective ways to have a positive impact on kids’ lives is through their educators…It is a privilege to partner with many of you every year to inspire curiosity in your students by encouraging them to explore the world.”
For the past eight years, EF has been proud to partner with the NEA Foundation, one of the nation’s foremost public charities and champions for improved public education. In collaboration with the Foundation’s Global Learning Fellowship Program, we’ve developed international field-study experiences for K-12 public school educators seeking to bring more of the world into their U.S. classrooms. Since 2011, we’ve sent more than 100 NEA Foundation Fellows on professional development tours to China, Brazil, Peru and South Africa. As part of their travels, the teachers participate in service-learning activities at local schools, businesses and nonprofits. One such nonprofit, Peru’s Challenge, will benefit from a $5,000 charitable donation made by the NEA Foundation on behalf of EF.
“Peru’s Challenge focuses on supporting public education in underserved communities in the Andes mountains outside Cusco,” explained Rannefors in his speech. “NEA Foundation Fellows have personally visited schools and met with educators there, helped with a construction project, as well as funded and stocked a local public school library. We are honored to donate this prize money to Peru’s Challenge, which will use the award to further the reach of public education in their communities.”
EF plans to send NEA Fellows back to Peru in 2020, where a new cohort of public school educators will have the opportunity to experience the nonprofit in action.
“We at EF are incredibly energized by this partnership since it illustrates a larger trend we’re seeing–of teachers, administrators and visionary leaders in education embracing global learning and making it a priority in their communities,” continued Rannefors. “Our work and our mission of opening the world through education feel incredibly relevant right now. It’s work that we hope makes the world a little better.”