Fulbright Bulgaria – Changing Lives for 30 Years!

The Bulgarian Fulbright Commission was inaugurated on February 9, 1993.


Highlighting Fulbright Bulgaria’s Impact

Fulbrighters make a difference in their areas of expertise and communities. Thirty years since the Commission’s founding, Fulbright Bulgaria alumni on both sides of the Atlantic number over 1,500 across diverse academic fields and professional specializations. Their work is what embodies the people-to-people diplomacy at the heart of the Fulbright experience.  

Find out how some of our alumni innovate, solve problems, and inspire others to do the same.  

Bulgarian and U.S. grantees to date

Bulgarian educational institutions have hosted an ETA

Bulgarian grantees in the U.S. for 2022-23

History of the Commission in Sofia

Since 1993, Fulbright Bulgaria has brought together scholars, students, and professionals on exchange grants as part of Fulbright’s global mission: to promote mutual understanding and be a foundation for friendship and peace between the people of the United States and the people of other countries.  

Fulbright International Summer Institute

Established in 2002

Fulbright International Summer Institute

The Fulbright International Summer Institute, or FISI, was established in 2002. FISI brought together students, scholars, professors, and representatives of civil society and government from many corners of the globe. FISI was a very special introduction to Bulgaria for new grantees, an important crossroads where lifelong friendships were made, and a unique opportunity for cross-generational, cross-cultural, and cross-disciplinary exchange that embodied the core pillars on which the global Fulbright Program stands.

The BEST Foundation - a legacy project

Established in 2013

The BEST Foundation

The BEST (Bulgarian English Speech and Debate Tournaments) Foundation was co-founded by six Fulbright | America for Bulgaria English Teaching Assistants and has been organizing tournaments for Bulgarian high schoolers since 2013, with many current ETAs serving as debate team coaches in their schools. In addition to the tournament events, BEST’s Student Leaders Program promotes mentorship and community service. Fulbright Bulgaria is proud to sponsor the Debate Summer Camp and Coaches’ Training each year. BEST relies on volunteer support for all its tournaments.

The Fulbright International Seminar

Established in 2018

The Fulbright International Seminar

The Fulbright International Seminar (FIS) was launched to bring academic experts with diverse backgrounds, but particularly in economics, political science and law, in front of an audience of students, civil society representatives and other professionals interested in the future of democracy. Interactive discussions and workshops are an important component of the event. The 2022 edition of FIS focused on rule of law, with the participation of judges from the United States as well as the European Court of Human Rights and Sofia Regional Court. 

Preserving Bulgaria's Cultural Heritage

Established in 2016

Preserving Bulgaria's Cultural Heritage

The goal of the Bi-National Commission for the Preservation of Bulgaria’s Cultural Heritage is to bring together experts from diverse fields dealing with tangible and intangible cultural heritage and to identify projects worthy of preservation and to work with American specialists to identify and recommend best practices for such preservation efforts. Over 200 participants from Bulgaria and the Balkans took part in the 2016 conference, “Museum Exhibits and Standards: A Look Ahead”, which brought experts from the Smithsonian and National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., among others. 

Since 2016

Opportunity Funds Bulgaria

Through EducationUSA, a program sponsored by Fulbright and the Embassy in Sofia, each year hundreds of virtual participants receive advising services in preparation for undergraduate study in the United States. The Opportunity Funds Program – Bulgaria is a scholarship established in 2016 supporting highly qualified but financially disadvantaged 11th graders with preparatory courses as they apply to four-year colleges in the U.S., followed by a $5000 stipend.

Since 2007

Thanks to Scandinavia Grants

The Thanks to Scandinavia Foundation in 2007 began providing an annual scholarship to a Bulgarian Fulbright student grantee to complete a master’s degree in the United States. Alongside TTS partner countries Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and Finland, Bulgaria is the only non-Scandinavian country to be recognized and supported by the foundation in recognition of Bulgaria’s heroic efforts to save their Jewish countrymen during the Holocaust. In 2017, in celebration of a decade of partnership, TTS generously increased its contribution to two annual scholarships of $20,000.  

Since 2015

Fulbright Open Lectures

In order to provide a forum for returning Bulgarian grantees to share their grant work, in 2015 we launched the first annual TED-style event where Bulgarian experts present their personal and professional experiences in the U.S. The Fulbright Open Lectures showcase the diversity of topics pursued by our alumni: scientific research, civic engagement, social outreach, the performing arts and many more! 

Since 2017

Media Literacy

In the age of disinformation, we are committed to promoting these vital skills in several ways. Fulbright Bulgaria sends 3-4 secondary school teachers to the US each year through the Fulbright Teaching Excellence and Achievement (FTEA) Program. We hosted an international conference for ETAs across Southeast Europe on media literacy in the classroom in November 2022. Since 2017, Fulbright Bulgaria has also worked with the Association of European Journalists in programming focused on teachers as well as young journalists (professional development for teachers, sCOOL Media, and the Media Literacy Summer Bootcamp).    

Fond memories

Celebrating Fulbright at 75

Throughout 2021, Fulbright Commissions, U.S. Embassies, universities, and other Fulbright partners and supporters held Fulbright Days to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Fulbright Program with a wide and varied range of activities. In total, 66 countries and territories around the world celebrated the impact of Fulbright partnerships across the globe.  

Fulbright Day in Bulgaria was held virtually on May 24, 2021 – the holiday of Saints Cyril and Methodius and of Bulgarian culture and education. This was the premiere of our film, “Fulbright at 75: Bulgarian-American Visions and Voices”, featuring alumni in the arts with music, dance, theater, visual arts, poetry and even a choral performance! This is our story.  

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Your story is worth sharing because it will inspire others. If you are a Fulbright alumnus, please email us your story and we will feature you on our anniversary page.

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