Thank you to everyone in our district and club volunteers who work very hard on this program, which has a great impact on students and volunteers.
Only 8 Districts in North America received awards (bronze, silver, and gold). It's important to note that not every district that applies gets an award because of the discerning group of judges.
It’s less about winning and more about self-assessment against best practices. The application has a clear points system for 77 different program variables.
In 2019, we received a Bronze Award, and after five years, we've leveled up to Silver.
Here are the four highlights the awards committee cites:
  1. Use of standardized forms: We use the latest application and exchange agreement forms created by a consortium of districts, which is an excellent way to ensure program consistency worldwide.
  2. Progress made on DEI: We were recognized for this over the past few years; our inbounds and outbounds reflect some diversity. Our financial assistance efforts have also removed some barriers, making the program more accessible. There's always more work to do here, and we are grateful we were recognized for moving in the right direction.
  3. We offer short- and long-term exchanges. Tom Rosenthal had a vision to move into a Short-Term Exchange a few years ago. This has been a good investment for the future because it broadens the number of students who might participate.
  4. Provide scholarships for outbound students.
In District 5400, we get many points in the application for the Inbound student experience. We provide students and host families with connections, service, and fun while they are here in the district. Laura Spencer is continually looking for ways to provide this for our inbounds. Thank you, Laura!
Our scholarship/financial assistance program was offered for the first time in 2023. Thank you to Beth Markley for running it for the past two years. We appreciate the support from the Governor Line for this initiative.