BOSTON, Oct. 21, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Santander Group Chairman Emilio Botin announced the Bank's commitment, through its Santander Universities Global Division, to contribute $100 million to U.S. universities during the next five years. In a recent presentation at Lincoln Center in New York attended by university leaders and researchers, Emilio Botin said: "At Santander we strongly believe that education is the best way to invest in the future. For us, it is also the best way to show our long-term commitment to the communities in which we work. Sixteen years ago, we began an alliance with the academic world that is unprecedented in international finance." Regarding cooperation with U.S. universities, he said: "We are delighted to be working with 27 U.S. universities. U.S. universities are, without doubt, an example worldwide. Our cooperation with U.S. universities has been key for the development and growth of Santander in this country. Today we are enhancing our commitment to American society." Santander's contribution of $100 million over the next five years will go toward academic and research projects, exchange programs and improving the relationship with and services to the university community. The funds will support initiatives such as the granting of 5,000 international exchange grants for students, lecturers and researchers, and the implementation of joint research projects between U.S. universities and institutions in Asia, Europe and Latin America. The Bank will also contribute $1 million to the U.S. government's "100,000 Strong for the Americas" initiative, which will facilitate 100,000 student exchanges each year between the U.S. and Latin America and the Caribbean. The Bank supports these and other initiatives via its Santander Universities Global Division. The activities of Santander Universities Global Division form the backbone of the Bank's community activities and enable it to maintain a stable alliance with more than 1,040 universities and research centers worldwide. Santander Universities began its support for higher education in the U.S. in 2009 and currently has 27 agreements with educational institutions in the country.