A Message from the Chairman

Introduction
Programs
Impact
Milestones
Future Plans

Introduction

I am pleased to present this report for the year 2012 with the related financial statements and provide an activity status for the year 2013.

Together, we’ve accomplished much. We faced challenges and pursued opportunities: raising funds for the Foundation’s core mission; partnering with the U.S. State Department in launching the Friendship Blossoms initiative, piloting the Japan Exchange and Teaching Alumni Association (JETAA) program, collaborating with the U.S.-Japan Conference on Cultural & Educational Interchange (CULCON), the Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission (JUSFC) and other organizations.

I have been most grateful for your support – the many corporate, foundation, and individual donors who make it possible for the Bridging Foundation to achieve its mission of establishing bridges of understanding and friendship by expanding cultural and educational exchanges.

Founded in 1998, the Bridging Foundation works very closely with the JUSFC, an independent federal agency established in 1975, and CULCON, a binational advisory panel to both U.S. and Japanese governments established in 1968.  We cooperate to advance and strengthen the vital educational and cultural foundation of the U.S.-Japan relationship from direct financial assistance to undergraduate students and professionals to participating in new programs and shaping public policy.

Our core program is the Bridging Scholars, which provides grants to undergraduates for study abroad in Japan.  In addition, we managed new programs this year:  Friendship Blossoms and JETAA.  These programs align well with our core mission and create a broader continuum of ways in which to nurture and strengthen U.S.-Japan relations.  These new initiatives are expected to run through 2015.

You have trusted us with your donations and, accordingly, and we have undertaken these activities with careful stewardship. We have maintained an efficient and effective organization with an overhead rate in 2012 of 6.8%, well below the accepted standard of 35%.  We expect to report a similarly low overhead when our 2013 audited financial statements are available.

Programs

Bridging Scholars

The Bridging Foundation helps to grow global leaders who will comfortably take their place in our global workforce and in their communities.  Celebrating our 15th year of service in 2013, the Foundation to date has now provided grants to 1,340 students for study in Japan.

This year we awarded a total of 91 scholarship grants:  71 for a full academic year and 20 for the spring semester.  Last year 110 students received scholarship grants, with 90 of them studying in Japan for a year and the other 20 for one semester.  Fewer scholarships were offered this year due to economic constraints; however, we remain focused on securing the funding necessary to continue a robust program.

The students were selected from a pool of almost 1, 200 applications.  We are proud of the diversity of our scholarship recipients in the broad scope of colleges and universities they attend in the U.S., in the varying majors being pursued, and also in the diversity of programs they attend while studying in Japan.  I have enjoyed meeting some of the students in Tokyo.  While each shares a passion for Japanese language and culture, their majors vary from engineering to international business to marketing and philosophy and many more.  They are deeply committed to absorbing and learning as much as possible during their stay in Japan.

We can report that 100% of our students have successfully completed their study abroad program – a testament to the quality of the students and the selection process that is managed by the Bridging Project Clearinghouse.  While in Japan, students meet the U.S. Ambassador or senior ranking US embassy officials, attend high-level public events, hear from a panel of professionals on overseas careers, leadership development, and meet with corporate sponsors.  These Bridging Foundation-related activities augment those that the students participate in independently through their host universities or families.

We are happy to have selected our first Grondine Scholar, an aspiring international relations major that is currently attending International Christian University in Tokyo.  This scholarship is named in memory of Robert Grondine, a role model and leader in U.S.-Japan relations, who passed away in October 2011.  Among a number of U.S.-Japan causes, Bob was an important supporter and chair of the Japan Advisory Committee of the Bridging Foundation.  With his family’s agreement and support, we have been honored to establish The Robert Grondine Memorial Scholarship Fund.

Friendship Blossoms

In 1912 Japan made a gift to the people of the United States of 3,000 cherry trees, which were planted in Washington, DC.  To commemorate the centennial of Japan’s gift, the U.S. Department of State launched the Friendship Blossoms—Dogwood Tree Initiative in 2012 with a gift of 3,000 American dogwood trees from the people of the U.S. to the people of Japan.

The Bridging Foundation was selected as the nonprofit partner to manage the program.  This major initiative has been undertaken without any additional Bridging Foundation staff.  To date, 1,339 dogwood trees have been sent to Japan and, of those, 634 have been planted in various locations throughout Japan.  Most recently, Ambassador Caroline Kennedy accompanied the Bridging Foundation, corporate donors, and Nagasaki city elected officials to plant trees at the Nagasaki Peace Park on December 10, 2013.

We are grateful to all sponsors, especially UPS for transporting gratis the trees and Chevron, our lead project donor. Below is a listing of Friendship Blossoms plantings that occurred in 2012 through 2013.

Anjo City, Anjo
Futako Tamagawa Park, Tokyo
Honmoku Sancho Park, Tokyo
Itami City, Hyoga
Kamaishi City, Iwate
Kanazawa, Ishikawa
Kawasaki City, Kanagawa
Minami Sanriku-cho, Miyagi
Mizuho-machi, Tokyo
Nagasaki Peace Park, Nagasaki
Nagoya City, Aichi
Ozaki Foundation, Tokyo
Saikai City, Nagasaki
Saitama City, Saitama
Sasebo City, Nagasaki
Tachikawa City, Tokyo
Toba City, Mie
Tsu City, Mie
Yokohama City, Kanagawa
Yoyogi Park, Tokyo

JETAA
We received funding from the Japan Foundation Center for Global Partnerships (CGP) to launch a project to help strengthen the Japan Exchange and Teaching Alumni Association (JETAA). JETAA’s all-volunteer, decentralized organizational structure poses challenges and obstacles that may be preventing JETAA from realizing its full potential to support regional and national activities that strengthen the U.S.-Japan relationship.  CGP funding provides the resources needed to, among other things, undertake a needs assessment of JETAA members in order to determine how JETAA can improve governance, grow membership, enrich its network, and advance its outreach programming.  We hired a part-time project director in July 2013; she has made steady progress towards meeting with and assessing the needs and interests of all 19 of the JET alumni chapters.

Impact

The Institute of International Education (IIE) reports that college students’ interest in studying abroad has been growing over the past two decades.  Its 2013 Open Doors Report on International Education Exchange reveals that, although the U.K. remains the top study abroad destination, Japan is a popular choice following its recovery from the devastating effects of its 2011 earthquake and tsunami.  In fact, the number of American students who studied in Japan increased by 27.8% since 2010, indicating keen interest in the country.  That is a very good thing because in order to remain competitive within a global economy, businesses of all sorts need people who know how to create, innovate, and market products, services, and policies within a world of diverse national and regional cultures.

Milestones

We remember the life of Foundation supporters who have passed on.  Doreen Brown Freeman passed away on July 12, 2013.  Doreen and her late husband, Houghton “Buck” Freeman, have very generously supported the Bridging Foundation through The Freeman Foundation.  The Freeman Foundation is now headed by Doreen and Buck’s son Graeme Freeman.  Because of the Freeman family’s long-term generosity, 280 U.S. undergraduates have studied in Japan as Bridging Scholars.  Doreen’s genuine, hands-on interest in cultivating an appreciation of Asia in young Americans was ever present and creates a lasting legacy.

Our Board member, Thomas Stephen Foley, passed away on October 18, 2013.  He had a long and distinguished career in public service, including Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives (1989-1994) and Ambassador to Japan (1997-2001).  Ambassador Foley served on the Bridging Foundation Board of Directors (2005-2013) and we will miss his wisdom and experience.

Future Plans

We celebrate the people – with us now and those who came before – who have cultivated people-to-people exchanges through their time, talent, and treasure.  Much more remains to be done.  For example, CULCON, a bilateral organization focused on advancing intellectual and cultural exchanges between Japan and the United States, released its Education Task Force Report this year.  The report recommends doubling the number of U.S. and Japanese students studying in each other’s country by 2020.  The Bridging Foundation embraces these recommendations. With a sense of responsibility to nurture that energy, the Bridging Foundation looks forward to strengthening our relationship with you and forging new partnerships that will lead to more productive and fruitful outcomes.

Thank you for being part of the Bridging Foundation’s first 15 years.  I’m honored to have your support and hope you will continue the journey with me… growing more global leaders, strengthening U.S.-Japan relations, preparing the next generation of talent to comfortably take its place in our global workforce.

Finally, Vice-Chair Thierry Porte and I wish to acknowledge the hard work and dedication of the Foundation’s executive director, Paige Cottingham-Streater, our deputy director, Jean Falvey, and their Washington team – indeed a truly fine team.

Best wishes,

Ronald J. Anderson, Chairman