Throughout their 100-year history, American Spaces have taken countless shapes, sizes and styles. Descriptions and missions have included libraries, schools, even theaters, but one defining component has never changed: people. American Spaces are, and have always been, places where people meet people, talk to people and listen to people. These are the places where people learn and share ideas, express their thoughts or cordially debate a sensitive topic—often all while learning English.
The Association of Binational Centers of Latin America is a network of more than 100 centers which are all part of the American Spaces network led by the Office of American Spaces of the United States government. This Office develops and supports modern, advanced physical platforms and public diplomacy engagement with foreign audiences. Established in 2011, the Office of American Spaces is the administrative support base that provides strategic direction, funding and training to the hundreds of American Spaces around the world, including binational centers.
The Office of American Spaces resides in the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the U.S. Department of State. ECA fosters mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries around the world.
With nearly 600 locations worldwide, American Spaces are strategically powerful public diplomacy tools that support U.S. foreign policy goals by providing technologically modern and welcoming places for direct foreign audience engagement.
American Spaces include American Centers, American Corners, and Binational Centers, all of which operate on different models. The majority are managed through institutional partnerships that provide tremendous value, generally with rent-free space and no-cost staff support. Programs at American Spaces are free and open to the public, equipping the U.S. government with effective and attractive platforms for person-to-person foreign interaction on topics including media literacy, economic development and American culture, society and values.
Formed by private organizations, binational centers were among the first American Spaces, and they are still a large contingent. Governed by local boards of directors, the more than 100 binational centers in the Western Hemisphere region are major hubs for English language learning and cross-cultural dialogue. The Office of American Spaces provides support funding to binational centers. The first binational center was the Instituto Cultural Argentino-Norteamericano, founded in Buenos Aires in 1928.