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Half-million-dollar Grants Announced in Chicago to Support Americans Studying in China

Chicago Mayor Richard Daley and Chicago Public Schools (CPS) officials announced 480,217 U.S. dollars in grants that will be used to support the school system's Chinese language and culture programs on Monday.

The announcement was made at a press conference held Monday morning in Chicago. The grants are from two private parties including Wanxiang Company of China and Motorola Solution Foundation, and the federal government.

The Mayor also announced that he has been appointed by the State Department to be Co-Chair of the "100,000 Strong Initiative" Advisory Committee. The program was created by President Barack Obama and its goal is to dramatically increase the number and diversify the composition of American students studying in China.

"I intend to do everything I can to achieve that goal. We need the private sector to step up and increase its commitment to support Americans studying in China," Daley said in the news conference held at the architectural firm of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill in downtown Chicago.

Daley said education is the most important investment the city had made over the years to support its long-term economic health.

"Our vision is to give all our students the kind of global education that prepares them to be leaders in Chicago, in our nation and in the world. The grants announced today will help us reach that goal," he said.

The first grant is for 100,000 dollars from the Wanxiang Company of Hangzhou, China, to create two four-week sessions in the summer of 2012 and 2013 for as many as 20 Chicago Public School students to study Chinese in Hangzhou.

"Programs such as this one are critical to helping further the dialogue between cultures and helping students improve their fluency in Chinese," Daley said.

The CPS will also receive a grant of 100,000 dollars from the Motorola Solutions Foundation that will also support sending CPS students to study in China. The program aims to increase significantly the number of Americans who have the opportunity to study in China. Students representing a variety of Chicago neighborhoods will get the opportunity to learn side-by-side with Chinese students, fostering a sense of understanding.

In addition, the CPS will receive 99,970 dollars through the federal government's "Startalk" program and a grant of 180,247 dollars through the National Security Language Initiative for Youth Program.

"These grants provide a wonderful opportunity for our young people to meet other young people with similar interests. It is cooperation like this that builds strong, diverse economies that help improve the quality of life for residents and help us compete in the new global society," Daley said.

During Daley's recent trip to China with a delegation of Chicago business leaders, he visited Beijing No. 4 High School. Walter Payton College Prep, the school that President Hu Jintao visited in January, and Beijing No. 4 High School have agreed to be "Sister Schools" and that this summer, when Payton students visit Beijing on the invitation of President Hu, they will be hosted at the Beijing No. 4 High School.

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