The Africa-America Institute was founded in 1953 by Dr. Horace Mann Bond, then President of Lincoln University in Oxford, Pennsylvania and Professor William Leo Hansberry, a Howard University professor of history, with a multi-racial collective of educators and others. Established in Washington, D.C., AAI was formed to support African students in their pursuit of higher education in the United States. At that time, highly motivated African students attending U.S. universities arrived in the U.S. full of hope and promise, but often with limited resources to finance their undergraduate and graduate degrees.
The Institute’s program work began by providing financial assistance to Africans, and extending hospitality to African students and visitors. From the 1960s to 1980s, as African nations increasingly gained independence from colonial rule, AAI expanded its higher education scholarship programs in the United States, with support from U.S. government funding, to build African leadership and assist Africans in attaining a world-class education and skills that could be applied in post-colonial Africa.
A report produced by the U.S. Agency for International Development, Generations of Quiet Progress: The Development Impact of U.S. Long-Term University Training in Africa from 1963-2003, concluded:
“USAID’s multi-million dollar investment in long-term training programs managed by AAI for over 40 years produced significant and sustained changes that furthered African development in measurable ways.”
By the mid-1990s, AAI focused its efforts on providing academic and professional skills training opportunities for Africans in both the U.S. and Africa. In the early- 2000s, AAI offered a high-level platform for increased U.S.-Africa engagement with policymakers, academics and key business and thought leaders from the U.S. and Africa on issues relevant Africa through African Perspectives roundtables and Africa Thursday Congressional Seminar Series.
Today, AAI is transforming itself into an innovative, vital hub for African talent, a builder of human capacity, a convener for thought leaders and entrepreneurs on issues related to Africa, and a repository of extensive history, research and information on the continent.