Monday 31 July 2017


The Henry Luce Foundation has generously awarded the Friends of the British Council a three-year grant of $500,000 to continue support for Bridging Voices, a high-level policy dialogue program focusing on the intersection of religion and international affairs.

The British Council USA will manage Bridging Voices. The new project will develop an inclusive transatlantic network for academics and civil society to conduct research, build capacity to advance the field of religion and international affairs and create pathways of engagement with policymakers. This network will be supported through research grants, workshops and a virtual platform for engagement. Bridging Voices will create cohorts of expertise developing the field of religion and international relations, triggering new conversations, deepening policy insight, strengthening cross-sector engagement and bringing new ideas from these workshops to the media and general public. The project will continue work from the 2013 grant by the Henry Luce Foundation to the Friends of the British Council.

Leigh Gibson, Director of the British Council USA said, “British Council USA has been building a strong track record in the field of religion and international affairs for over three years. This additional support from the Luce Foundation will allow us to continue the work of building scholarship and dialogue at a time when it is more important than ever. Through Bridging Voices, we developed a large transatlantic network of policymakers, academics and influencers who sit at the center of religion and international affairs. This new program will expand this important network globally and bring together an inclusive range of experts across sectors and subject areas. Religion and belief directly and indirectly affect the daily lives of billions across the world. We are proud to collaborate with the Henry Luce Foundation for a third time and lead this program which sits at the very heart of cultural relations.”

Since the program start in 2013, the first grant of $450,000 from The Henry Luce Foundation to the Friends of the British Council supported 40 universities, think tanks and NGOs to run 33 dialogues across the US, the UK and Europe. These dialogues engaged academics, policymakers, diplomats, journalists and practitioners to explore a range of religion and foreign policy issues.

Notes to Editor

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Justine Gamez – Head of Strategic Communications and Marketing

About the British Council

The British Council is the UK’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities. We create friendly knowledge and understanding between the people of the UK and other countries. Using the UK’s cultural resources we make a positive contribution to the countries we work with – changing lives by creating opportunities, building connections and engendering trust.

We work with over 100 countries across the world in the fields of arts and culture, English language, education and civil society. Each year we reach over 20 million people face-to-face and more than 500 million people online, via broadcasts and publications.

Founded in 1934, we are a UK charity governed by Royal Charter and a UK public body. The majority of our income is raised delivering a range of projects and contracts in English teaching and examinations, education and development contracts and from partnerships with public and private organisations. Eighteen per cent of our funding is received from the UK government.

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About Friends of the British Council

The Friends of the British Council builds strategic partnerships to support the British Council's work around the world. Working with the United States and international corporations, foundations, organizations and individuals, we identify synergies, share knowledge, leverage resources and contribute financially to British Council programs around the world.

Our goal is to customize and add value to these partnerships and projects, resulting in meaningful relationships between the British Council and its key stakeholders.

We engage with all levels of society, including civil and community leaders, influencers, educators, scientists, artists, business leaders, and the media. Not only that, we work extensively with marginalized and vulnerable populations such as women, at-risk youth, early learners, areas of rural poverty and post-conflict zones. We are also majorly involved with education and work with secondary and higher education sectors and with young people starting out their careers.

About The Henry Luce Foundation

The Henry Luce Foundation seeks to bring important ideas to the center of American life, strengthen international understanding, and foster innovation and leadership in academic, policy, religious and art communities. Launched in 2005, the Henry R. Luce Initiative on Religion in International Affairs aims to provide intellectual leadership, develop new paradigms for research and teaching, create new resources and networks, and enhance public understanding of and discussion about religion in the international sphere.