What is the Grew Bancroft Foundation ?
The Grew Bancroft Foundation (the Foundation) is an organization which provides scholarships every year to select graduates of Japanese high schools to study for four years at reputable liberal arts colleges in the United States.
The Foundation was first established in 1950 as the Grew Foundation, named after Joseph C. Grew (1880-1965), who was the U.S. Ambassador to Japan from 1932 to 1941. He worked hard to avoid the war between the two nations until the last moment. After he returned home, Grew published a diary, Ten Years in Japan, describing his experiences during his ten-year tenure in Japan. When he learned that the Japanese version of his book, which was published in Japan in 1948, was selling well, Grew thought of donating the royalties to certain programs useful for the postwar reconstruction of U.S.-Japan relations. He consulted his close Japanese friend Ayske Kabayama (1865-1953), then president of the America-Japan Society in Tokyo, asking for his advice. Kabayama, who had studied at Amherst College and thought highly of liberal arts education, proposed establishing a scholarship foundation for promising young Japanese students to study in the United States.
In 1950 Kabayama decided to launch a nation-wide fundraising campaign for this project using Grew’s contribution of about 5 million yen (about $13,500) as seed money. The campaign received strong support from influential political and business leaders in Japan, including the prime minister and the governor of the central bank. Emperor Showa also expressed his gracious endorsement. Kabayama was successful in raising 68 million yen, an enormous amount in those days.
In August 1953, four students left Japan as the first group of recipients of the Grew Foundation scholarship. Since then, the Foundation has supported a total of more than 120 students.
In 2007 the Grew Foundation merged with the Bancroft Foundation, a similar scholarship foundation which was founded on the inheritance of Edgar A. Bancroft (1857-1925), who served as U.S. Ambassador to Japan during the1920s. The Grew Foundation was then renamed the Grew Bancroft Foundation.
Mission Statement and Achievements
The U.S.-Japan partnership is widely recognized as one of the most important bilateral relationships, sharing common values including democracy and a respect of human rights to serve for stability and peace in the world. Even though the two nations fought each other during World War II, they have been successful in establishing solid relations of trust, owing much to the dedicated efforts of individuals from both sides. To maintain and enhance such a partnership, it is indispensable to nurture and sustain personal trust between individual citizens of the two nations.
Since the establishment of the Foundation nearly sixty years ago, the scholarship recipients have been able to develop fine and resilient characters to meet new challenges, benefitting from the rigorous educational programs in the United States. The liberal arts colleges from which Grew Bancroft scholars have graduated include Bates, Bowdoin, Bryn Mawr, Carleton, DePauw, Dartmouth, Grinnell, Hamilton, Haverford, Knox, Lake Forest, Middlebury, Oberlin, Pomona, Swarthmore, Vassar , Wesleyan (CT), and Williams.
Many recipients of the scholarships have become active leaders in the public and private sectors, and have contributed not only to strengthening U.S.-Japan bilateral relations, but also to promoting mutual understanding and cooperation in the international community.
In the US-Japan Joint Statement, issued at the end of President Obama's visit in Japan in April, 2014, the Grew-Bancroft Foundation was specifically recognized as one of the non-governmental programs indispensable for promoting people-to-people connections between the two countries.
The Importance of Liberal Arts Education
The Foundation believes in the fine quality of education at many liberal arts colleges in the United States, and sends its scholars mainly to residential liberal arts colleges with a student body of around 2000, rather than to large universities. At liberal arts colleges where the student body is small, and the student-to-faculty ratio is low, students can develop a fine character and become useful citizens of society. They can learn from professors directly, who are eager to share their knowledge in small classes, can train themselves to think critically and can participate in discussions in an active and effective way. Living in dormitories and sharing life with students from the United States and other countries of diverse background, they will be exposed to new experiences at the age when they are most receptive to a new environment and perspectives. Outside of class, they will be encouraged not only to participate in extracurricular activities but also to take a leadership role. At these small institutions, students can develop the ability to acquire new knowledge for many years after graduation that is indispensable in this fast-changing world.
Many of the Grew Bancroft scholars have become key players in the public and private sectors. Among the 105 graduates, there are 24 with doctorates and 41 with master’s degrees including the MBA.
After graduation, recipients of the scholarship have worked or are working for the following organizations.
Goldman Sachs Japan, Hitachi, International Monetary Fund, Japanese METI, Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Kyodo News, Merrill Lynch, Mitsubishi Corporation, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries,
NHK (Japan Broadcasting Corporation), Nippon Steel, Schroder, Sony, United Nations, World Trade Organization,
Some chose to become academics and have taught at such institutions as Brown, Claremont McKenna, Harvard, Northwestern, Purdue, Tulane, Yale, in the United States, and Keio, Nagoya, Osaka University, Sophia (Jochi), St.Paul’s ( Rikkyo), Tokyo University, Tsukuba, in Japan.
Fundraising and Soliciting Contributions
We are now facing an alarming trend. The number of Japanese students studying at universities and colleges in the United States, which was once the top among countries 16 years ago, has been significantly declining in recent years. The 2009 figure was down 13.9% compared with the year before. India, China and South Korea are dispatching larger numbers of students to the United States than Japan. If this serious trend continues, the number of Japanese individuals in positions to actively support the bilateral partnership will inevitably decline and our relationship may be deeply affected.
As of March 2010, about twenty students are studying under the auspices of the Foundation. In response to the current situation, we strongly feel the need to increase the number of Japanese students studying in reputable colleges and universities in the United States. The same concerns are now frequently expressed by informed people of both countries. Specific actions to cope with this negative trend are being taken by the Foundation in cooperation with other institutions, including the Tokyo Club, the Japan-United States Educational Commission (Fulbright Commission), and the America-Japan Society.
In the fall of 2009, the Foundation launched a fundraising campaign in Japan to solicit donations from individuals who expressed their interest in supporting the purposes of the Foundation.
We invite you to join our efforts to support and strengthen the scholarship program of the Foundation and assist us in our endeavor of nurturing leaders for future generations.
The Grew Bancroft Foundation is a public interest incorporated foundation.
Contributions to the foundation are tax deductible. The Grew Bancroft Foundation (USA) Inc., is also granted tax exempt status from US government.