As a nonprofit educational and cultural organization, USJETAA promotes grassroots friendship and understanding between the U.S. and Japan through the personal and professional experiences of over 35,000 Americans who have participated on the JET Programme since its inception in 1987.USJETAA was created through an initiative developed by the United States Bridging Foundation in 2013 and funded by The Japan Foundation Center for Global Partnership with support from all 19 JETAA chapters around the U.S. The impetus for its creation was in response to a growing recognition by the binational committee, CULCON, of the impact JET alumni have as individuals and as a group on U.S.-Japan relations. In CULCON’s 25th Joint Plenary Meeting Statement on April 10, 2012, under the section of Grassroots Exchange, they asked governments, academia, non-profits and private sectors to, “Support JETAA efforts to build its infrastructure and promote improved English language learning in Japan and cross-cultural activities.”
Led by Paige Cottingham-Streater (Mie, 1988-89), the U.S.-Japan Bridging Foundation sought feedback from the JETAA community in the United States and ultimately decided that there was a need for an umbrella organization to support the dedicated volunteers who run the 19 JETAA chapters in the United States and reach JET alumni who may be unaffiliated with those chapters. While the three country representative of the sister organization, JETAA USA, guide the JETAA chapters and provide vital support for the chapter leadership those positions are also uncompensated. The JETAA USA working group involved in the conceptualization of USJETAA was made up of the three JETAA USA Country Representatives, JETAA chapter leaders, and other stakeholders in the JETAA community. The working group determined that an umbrella organization with employees and funding could support the JETAA volunteers, boosting their capacity and providing funding for programs beneficial to JETs and the U.S-Japan relationship. USJETAA was incorporated as a national nonprofit organization in 2015.
Under the leadership of Executive Director Laurel Lukaszewski (Kagoshima, 1990-1992) and the founding board of directors, USJETAA put down roots and launched programs to provide assistance to JETAA chapters and reach current JETs. To provide support for the leadership of JETAA chapters, the Leadership Program sends USJETAA representatives to visit JETAA chapters to workshop their goals; a webinar series addresses topics relevant to chapter leaders; and, a grant partnership with the Sasakawa Peace Foundation USA provides grants to JETAA chapters for community projects. To help current JETs in internationalization and English teaching efforts, a partnership with the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo provides microgrants (grants of small amounts of funding) to current American JETs. These initial programs grew into the diverse programs that currently support JETAA chapters and JET alumni.
- Serve as a resource for JET alumni, JETAA chapters nationwide, and potential JET participants.
- Support the network of JETAA chapters in programming, membership recruitment, chapter management, leadership, professional development, and fundraising.
- Collaborate with JETAA USA on national initiatives to strengthen the JETAA chapter leadership.
- Facilitate collaboration and information sharing among JETAA chapters.
- Serve as a national clearinghouse for information on chapters, careers, educational opportunities, and U.S.-Japan relations.
- Serve as a point of contact for organizations interested in partnering with JETAA chapters.
- Provide membership services for individual JET alumni not associated with a JETAA chapter.
- Support the JET Programme and the JET community as appropriate.
- Undertake national charitable initiatives.
- Promote cross-cultural understanding between Japan and the United States, and support the U.S.-Japan relationship.