Building Bridges Coalition

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The Building Bridges Coalition (also referred to as the BBC) is a project of The Brookings Institution’s Initiative on International Volunteering and Service. It is a consortium of international volunteering organizations, universities and colleges, corporations, and government agencies working collaboratively to increase the number of volunteers from 50,000 to 100,000 by 2010. Sample members include Global Citizen Network, Partners of the Americas, Globe Aware, and Washington University.

The Coalition began in 2006 as one of three key components of the Brookings Institution’s Initiative on International Volunteering and Service. It currently comprises a coalition of more than 70 groups. These include corporations, non-governmental organizations, leading universities, and government agencies. All work in partnership to encourage more Americans to volunteer internationally.

About the Initiative on International Volunteering and Service[edit]

The Brookings Initiative on International Volunteering and Service sought to explore ways in which the culture of volunteerism can help enhance global understanding and security. The resulting initiative has an ambitious goal—to double the number of Americans that volunteer overseas by 2010.

The initiative has two key areas in addition to the Building Bridges Coalition. The Public Policy Group, co-chaired by Senator Harris Wofford and John Bridgeland, focuses on policy development and education, and advances recommendations that include doubling the Peace Corps and creating a Global Fellowship to sponsor individual volunteers. The Research and Impacts Group, led by the Center for Social Development at Washington University in St. Louis and Brookings Fellow David Caprara, focuses on assessing the status and impacts of international volunteering and service and promoting effective practices.

Led by David Caprara, Director and Nonresident Fellow at the Brookings Institution, the goal is to improve service quality, capacity, and positive impacts in communities throughout the world. These goals will be achieved through four distinct areas of operation and strategy:

Assessment of international service Public policy analysis and recommendations Building Bridges Coalition and public engagement Corporate sector engagement

A Tool for Citizen Diplomacy[edit]

The Building Bridges Coalition is one among a host of organizations conceived of as tools of American soft power around the world. To that end, the BBC has been represented at various conferences focused on the role of Citizen Diplomacy in international affairs. These include the 2007 Congressional Forum on Citizen Diplomacy in the 21st Century and the DRAFT National Summit on Citizen Diplomacy in 2008. The International Labor Organization has stated that a better understanding of the scope and contribution of volunteer work would improve policy-making and help raise living standards.

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