Baylor Receives IIE American Passport Project Grant to Support Underrepresented Students to Study Abroad

Grant will enable up to 25 Baylor students to obtain their first U.S. passport and open the pathway to study abroad

April 30, 2024
Group of students with luggage outside of an airport

Baylor First Abroad Fellows combined a week of service with study abroad in the Dominican Republic in 2023. (Photo courtesy of Holly Joyner, Baylor Center for Global Engagement)

Contact: Lori Fogleman, Baylor University Media and Public Relations, 254-709-5959
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WACO, Texas (April 30, 2024) – Baylor University has been selected by the Institute of International Education (IIE) to receive an IIE American Passport Project grant that will enable up to 25 Baylor students to obtain their first U.S. passport and open the pathway to study abroad.

A key program under the IIE Center for Access and Equity, the IIE American Passport Project represents IIE’s commitment to creating access to international education opportunities and enabling equity by removing a financial barrier, thereby increasing the diversity and inclusion of students studying abroad. The program prioritizes students early in their higher education experience to allow them ample time to go through the passport application and study abroad planning process with advising and support from the awarded institutions. Through the IIE American Passport Project, IIE aims to grant 10,000 U.S. students their passports by the end of this decade. 

Three Baylor students in t-shirts and toolbelts working on building a house in the Dominican Republic
In 2023, Baylor First Abroad Fellows combined service, including building a home for a family, and study abroad in the Dominican Republic. (Photo courtesy of Holly Joyner, Baylor Center for Global Engagement)

“For students who are the first in their family to go to college, or for students who have not had the financial means to travel internationally, any barrier to education abroad can be seen as insurmountable,” said Eddie Contreras, Ph.D., vice provost for global engagement at Baylor. “This grant from the Institute of International Education helps Baylor’s Center for Global Engagement (CGE) continue our work to expand access to study abroad by removing one of the first financial barriers – the cost of a passport. With more passports in hand, Baylor students will have one less barrier to seeing the world.”

The IIE Passport Grant marks a significant milestone for CGE, which is committed to supporting Baylor students from low socioeconomic backgrounds through the successful implementation of the First Abroad Fellows program. Since 2019, CGE has offered 40 first-generation college students funding for passport acquisition and scholarships for study abroad programs, removing financial barriers and promoting inclusivity in international education. With the addition of the IIE Passport Grant, CGE is poised to expand that impact further by providing passport funding to an additional 25 students in the next academic year.

“This opportunity not only aligns with our mission to broaden access to global experiences but also underscores our dedication to facilitating transformative educational opportunities for all students,” said Holly Joyner, M.S., associate director of global engagement and marketing and program director of Global Scholars. “The decision to pursue this grant was informed by the impact of our existing First Abroad Fellows program. Through testimonials and data analysis, we have seen a positive correlation between passport acquisition and the willingness of first-generation students at Baylor to pursue study abroad experiences. By securing additional funding, we aim to empower more students to prioritize and engage in enriching international experiences.”

The IIE American Passport Project seeks to reach diverse student populations and institutions that serve students who identify within demographics underrepresented in U.S. study abroad or those who often do not obtain a U.S. passport. To date, the program has supported 176 higher education institutions in 41 states since its inception in 2021. In this fourth cohort, 41% of the institutions represent racial/ethnic minority-serving populations – HBCUs, HSIs, AANAPISIs and MSIs – or are community colleges. The majority of the awarded institutions are focusing on these priority demographics for their respective campuses: first-generation college students, racial/ethnic minorities, students with demonstrated financial need and students who have never traveled abroad. 

A passport symbolizes more than just the ability to travel—it represents the gateway to diverse cultures, perspectives and opportunities for personal and professional growth. As highlighted in the Open Doors 2023 report on International Exchange in the U.S., the low percentage of college students engaging in study abroad underscores the importance of initiatives like those in the CGE that foster global citizenship and competitiveness in the global workforce.

“We are excited to continue our efforts in promoting global engagement and empowering students to become well-rounded, globally competent leaders,” Contreras said. “The IIE Passport Grant serves as a testament to our ongoing commitment to advancing access to international education and fostering a more inclusive campus community.”


Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked Research 1 institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 20,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 100 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.


The Institute of International Education (IIE) is the leader in designing and implementing international education strategies and program services. IIE works with governments, policymakers, educators and employers across the globe to prepare students and professionals for the global workforce and equip them to solve the increasingly complex challenges facing our interconnected world. With support from donors, IIE also creates initiatives that assist students, scholars and artists whose lives and work are threatened; expand teaching and learning across cultures; and provide opportunities to underserved populations. A not-for-profit organization founded in 1919, IIE has a network of 16 offices and affiliates worldwide and over 1,600 higher education partners. 

In its work around the world, IIE’s global offices and experienced staff have developed significant expertise, capabilities and best practices in a set of core areas. Their cutting-edge approaches developed in these fields are formalized in a set of Centers of Excellence: IIE’s Center for International Partnerships and IIE’s Center for Access and Equity. IIE’s Center for Access and Equity aims to advance accessible programming and equitable practices in community building that enrich and expand international education, exchange and opportunity for all.

The IIENetwork is IIE’s global membership association supporting the strategic advancement of international education. Through the IIENetwork, IIE shares decades of experience and expertise, generates resources and leverages knowledge and practices with members who are working to strategize and actualize international education efforts, including building international and academic partnerships, recruiting international students and advocating for study abroad and student mobility.