The China Exchange Initiative was founded by Carolyn Henderson and Charlotte Mason in 1999. The organization is the outcome of a vision of philanthropist Houghton Freeman to see more opportunities for American high school students and teachers to study in China, and, as a result, populate Asian Studies programs in colleges and universities. Mr. Freeman personally approached Mason and Henderson, then co-chairs of the Newton Public Schools’ exchange program with the Jingshan School in Beijing. He offered them a founding grant to foster U.S.-China educational exchange at the pre-college level, recognizing the importance of building support for universities programs by engaging secondary schools.
CEI has worked directly with 746 schools and school systems in twenty-three states and seventeen provinces to promote partnerships between schools in the United States and schools in China. Working with colleagues at CEAIE (The Chinese Educational Association for International Exchange), an NGO of the Chinese Ministry of Education, Mason, Henderson, and Peihui Wang pioneered the shadowing model for school administrator exchanges in 2004. Since then, CEI has enrolled leaders from 482 total school districts in thirteen states and twelve provinces, and has fostered exchange programs, Chinese language programs, and authentic China-related content in school curricula.
Outside of this project, CEI also serves as consultants, providing guidance and support to exchange programs across the country. We advise schools interested in finding partner institutions and assist them in establishing sustainable exchange relationships. We also give presentations at relevant educational conferences and help schools establish Chinese language programs and infuse more China content into curricula.
The China Exchange Initiative is entirely funded by a grant from the Freeman Foundation to develop educational exchange programs between schools in the US and schools in China. Newton Public Schools, our second great benefactor, generously provides space for our operations.