Begun as a pilot program in 1999 and established as a permanent agency in late 2000, the Center conducts the first and only international exchange agency in the U.S. Legislative Branch. Since its 1999 inception, the Center has awarded grants to 61 organizations headquartered in 25 different states and the District of Columbia. These grantee organizations host delegations themselves or award sub-grants to local host organizations to do so. By the end of 2016, some 800 local host organizations—including universities and community colleges, Rotary clubs and other service organizations, sister-city associations, and international visitor councils and other nonprofits in all 50 states and the District of Columbia—had conducted Open World exchanges for the Center. Some 8,200 American families have hosted participants in more than 2,400-plus communities around the country.