The bi-national centers (BNCs) in Colombia are autonomous, non-profit cultural and educational institutions created during the Second World War to contribute to good relations between Colombia and the United States. Several BNCs were founded in 1942. Each month these Centers collectively host 32,500 students of English. In addition, they maintain a slate of cultural activities, a library and US educational advising programs. The BNCs liaison with the Embassy, under the auspices of the Public Affairs Section, in a wide array of mutually beneficial projects, but they do not depend economically on the U.S. government.
Currently, there are BNCs of different sizes in Armenia, Barranquilla, Bogota, Bucaramanga, Cali, Cartagena, Manizales, Medellin, and Pereira. Some have satellite branches in their cities. Each BNC is managed by a board of directors, generally comprised of Colombian and U.S. nationals resident in Colombia and some have U.S. citizen executive directors.
The educational advising offices offer information about U.S. university admissions processes, financial aid and scholarship programs, English institutes and testing, summers camps, and job internships.
The library in each BNC houses US/bilingual books, magazines, newspapers, videos, pamphlets, audio tapes and in some cases, microforms and computer access. The libraries function as U.S. public libraries, offering reference services, collections that include U.S. fiction, history, and tourist information, book loans, and outreach to schools and community centers.