About Sister Cities International
Founded by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1956, Sister Cities International is a 501(c)(3) nonpartisan nonprofit serving as the national membership organization for individual sister cities, counties, and states across the United States. This network unites tens of thousands of citizen diplomats and volunteers in programs in 140 countries on six continents.
Sister Cities International advances peace and prosperity through cultural, educational, humanitarian, and economic development exchanges. It serves as a hub for institutional knowledge and best practices in the field of citizen diplomacy.
Since its inception Sister Cities International has played a key role in renewing and strengthening important global relationships. Sister Cities International was created at President Eisenhower’s 1956 White House conference on citizen diplomacy, where he envisioned an organization that could be a champion for peace and prosperity by fostering bonds between people from different communities around the world. By forming these relationships, President Eisenhower reasoned that people of different cultures could celebrate and appreciate their differences and build partnerships that would lessen the chance of new conflicts.
Sister Cities International strives to strengthen the sister cities network through strategic institutional partnerships, grants, programs, and support for its members. Sister Cities International motivates and empowers private citizens, municipal officials, and business leaders to conduct long-term, mutually beneficial sister city, county, or state relationships. The mission of Sister Cities International is just as important today as it was when it was founded. With the advent of the internet and new technologies, the world is becoming smaller, and the relationships and interactions between the U.S. and its foreign counterparts are more complex than ever. Despite this increase in online communication, the face-to-face meetings and personal relationships developed through sister cities are still vital and irreplaceable.
What is a Sister City?
A sister city, county, or state relationship is a broad-based, long-term partnership between two communities in two countries. A sister city, county, or state relationship is officially recognized after the highest elected or appointed official from both communities sign off on an agreement.
A city may have any number of sister cities, with community involvement ranging from a half dozen to hundreds of volunteers. In addition to volunteers, sister city organizations may include representatives from nonprofits, municipal governments, the private sector, and other civic organizations.
Sister city relationships offer the flexibility to form connections between communities that are mutually beneficial and which address issues that are most relevant for partners.
What is a Sister City Organization?
A sister city organization is a volunteer group of ordinary citizens who, with the support of their local elected officials, form long-term relationships with people and organizations in a city abroad. Each sister city organization is independent and pursues the activities and thematic areas that are important to them and their community including municipal, business, trade, educational and cultural exchanges with their sister city.
Sister city organizations promote peace through people-to-people relationships—with program offerings varying greatly from basic cultural exchange programs to shared research and development projects between cities with relationships.