Founded in 1920, The English-Speaking Union of the United States is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit, non-political charitable corporation with the mission to celebrate English as a shared language to foster global understanding and good will by providing educational and cultural opportunities for students, educators, and members.
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Headquartered in New York City and incorporated in the State of Delaware, the ESU undertakes its programs through its members in a network of 70 Branches nationwide. An independent American corporation, the ESU-US works in fellowship with more than 50 independent ESUs around the world.
ESU members work together locally, nationally and internationally to foster global understanding through a variety of educational, cultural and social programs. The ESU's national programs are supported by its unrestricted endowment and corporate and foundation grants as well as by the generosity of its members. Members benefit from the personal relationships and international exposure gained from ESU activities and events while they provide financial and volunteer support to sustain these programs.
The ESU celebrates English as a shared language to foster global understanding and good will by providing educational and cultural opportunities for students, educators, and members.
The English-Speaking Union of the United States was created to fulfill a mission. It was formally organized in the United States in 1920, two years after the establishment of its counterpart in the British Commonwealth and arose from the conviction of its founder, Sir Evelyn Wrench and a group of like-minded American and British friends, that maintenance of the close personal and national ties forged during World War I was necessary for the preservation of peace. Sir Evelyn firmly believed that given the opportunity to know one another personally, people who shared a common language would soon discover that they also shared similar values, whatever their differences in nationality or background. He imagined the ESU as an inclusive organization "founded in no narrow attitude of race pride, in no spirit of hostility to any people." Its educational mission would be carried out by a host of activities allowing for personal contact between peoples at every level.
The English-Speaking Union National Shakespeare Competition assists high school teachers across the country with their Shakespeare and language arts curriculum. Through the competition, students are encouraged to develop their communication skills and an appreciation of the power of language and literature.
The British University Summer School Fellowships
help high school teachers continue their education through summer study at prestigious British centers of learning – Oxford University, Shakespeare's Globe in London and Edinburgh University. BUSS teachers return to their classrooms revitalized and inspired to apply their new teaching strategies, knowledge and international perspective.
Shakespeare Set Free Institutes, a partnership between the ESU and the world-renowned Folger Shakespeare Library, are two-day, low-cost, non-residential institutes for teachers. Using the Folger's smart materials and easily adapted methods, the Institutes teach performance-based approaches to Shakespeare.
English in Action is a second language tutoring program matching newcomers to the U.S. with American volunteers for one-to-one conversation. EIA helps students master conversational English and fosters cross-cultural, global understanding through English.
Books-Across-the-Sea, with its Ambassador Book Awards and Books as Envoys components, disseminates books as interpreters of our culture. The Ambassador Book Awards are presented annually to authors whose works best represent American life and culture, and through the Books as Envoys program these works are then sent as "literary ambassadors" to ESUs around the world for distribution to libraries and schools.
The Luard Scholarships are merit awards for students at United Negro College Fund institutions, enabling them to spend their junior year at the British university of their choosing. Luard scholars have studied at universities including Oxford, Cambridge and the London School of Economics, where they have performed with distinction as scholars and unofficial American ambassadors.
The Evelyn Wrench Speaker Program provides expert lecturers on history, politics, the arts, language, literature and current events to cities across the U.S. through the network of ESU Branches. The English-Speaking Union has always provided a national platform for gifted, professional speakers from a broad spectrum of fields, including journalism, government, business, teaching and the arts.
Through The Secondary School Exchange, American, British and Argentine teenagers spend a postgraduate semester or year abroad on a full scholarship provided by participating schools. Since 1928, thousands of students have participated, many describing the SSE Exchange as the most formative experience in their lives.
The ESU Middle School Debate Program is an ESU educational initiative in partnership with Claremont McKenna College's Middle School Public Debate Program, international leaders in middle school debate education. The program is for students in grades 5- 8 to help them develop critical thinking and language arts skills through public speaking.
Patricia S. Schroeder, Orlando, FL
Mark Stollar, New York, NY
President & Executive Director
Alice Boyne, New York, NY
Hollister Sturges, New York, NY
Matilde Jones, Desert, CA
William R. Miller CBE, New York, NY
Doe Thornburg OBE, Chicago, IL