YLAI Fellowships

Apply to be a Fellowship Host  

For more information, please contact YLAI Professional Fellows Program Team at YLAI@meridian.org

The Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative (YLAI) Professional Fellows Program empowers entrepreneurs and innovative civil society leaders to strengthen their capacity to launch and advance their entrepreneurial ideas and effectively contribute to social and economic development in their communities. In fall 2016, 248 YLAI Professional Fellows from Latin America and the Caribbean expanded their leadership and entrepreneurial experience through fellowships at businesses and civil society organizations across the U.S. 250 YLAI Professional Fellows are expected in fall 2017.

A key component of the program is the relationship that the participants have with their Fellowship Hosts during the four week program at start-ups, small enterprises, small business groups, NGOs, etc. Fellows could engage in job shadowing, work as part of a team on a project, join client meetings or partner meetings, and participate in technical meetings, among other activities.

Fellowship Hosts will offer contacts, support, cultural insights, and goal setting advice during the program, which will help the fellows build the networks, linkages, and lasting partnerships needed to attract investments and support for their entrepreneurial ventures. The participants will also discuss their own strategic action plan with their fellowship host. Outstanding hosts will be considered for a reverse exchange in their Fellow’s home country.

The YLAI Professional Fellows will be between the ages of 21 and 35, and they will have at least 2 years of professional or entrepreneurial experience. They will be proficient in English.

Meridian is proud to implement this program on behalf of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. Department of State.

Partner Organizations

Each fellow will be placed in one of the following 24 cities throughout the United States for a customized fellowship from October 3 through November 9, 2017:

Organization City
Global Ties ABQ Albuquerque, NM
Georgia Council for International Visitors Atlanta, GA
University of Texas at Austin Austin, TX
WorldBoston Boston, MA
Vermont Council on World Affairs Burlington, VT
International House of Metrolina Charlotte, NC
Presidential Precinct Charlottesville, VA
WorldChicago Chicago, IL
Cleveland Council on World Affairs Cleveland, OH
World Affairs Council of Dallas/Fort Worth Dallas, TX
WorldDenver Denver, CO
Global Ties Detroit Detroit, MI
Global Ties Alabama Huntsville, AL
Global Ties Kansas City Kansas City, MO
Global Ties Arkansas Little Rock, AR
World Affairs Council of Kentucky & South Indiana Louisville, KY
Global Ties Miami Miami, FL
GlobalPittsburgh Pittsburgh, PA
World Affairs Council of Oregon Portland, OR
International Focus Raleigh, NC
Utah Council for Citizen Diplomacy Salt Lake City, UT
San Diego Diplomacy Council San Diego, CA
World Affairs Council of Seattle Seattle, WA
University of Notre Dame South Bend, IN

How to Get Involved

If you are interested in becoming a YLAI Professional Fellows Program Fellowship Host, please fill out our Interest Form by clicking on the button below. The implementing partner organization located in your city will review your information and get in touch with you soon.

Apply to be a Fellowship Host  

For more information, please contact YLAI Professional Fellows Program Team at YLAI@meridian.org

Frequently Asked Questions

A Fellowship Host’s emphasis should be on the participant as an individual, their career, and supporting their individual growth. You will serve as a facilitator—teacher, role model, sounding board, and friend—focused on what can reasonably be accomplished during the time the Professional Fellow will spend at their host organization or company.

The YLAI Professional Fellows Program helps entrepreneurs further develop their business plans by providing skills-building workshops and opportunities to learn from U.S. counterparts. YLAI Professional Fellows will also develop stronger ties with participants from Latin America and the Caribbean, as well as with their U.S. fellowship hosts and partners. While the Professional Fellows will have opportunities for networking with potential partners and/or investors, the main objective of the program is to help them gain the skills necessary to further develop their business. Therefore, they should not come to the U.S. expecting to secure funding during the program.

The YLAI Professional Fellows Program is a U.S. Department of State initiative. This prestigious program offers Fellowship Hosts the opportunity to grow their networks throughout the Americas by connecting in a personal and professional manner with their local YLAI cohort and in particular with their assigned Fellow. Your business will benefit from the unique perspective and entrepreneurial skills of an outstanding young leader from Latin America or the Caribbean. The 250 YLAI Professional Fellows who will take part in this program in the fall will be the top applicants of a rigorous application and interview process that takes into account their levels of experience and the quality of their business plans. Selected Fellowship Hosts will have the opportunity to take part in a reverse exchange, during which they will have the opportunity to travel to their participant’s home country for continued collaboration, cultural immersion, and professional programming.

YLAI Fellowship Hosts and their businesses will not be compensated financially for their involvement in the program.

The YLAI Professional Fellows Program is a two-way exchange that creates opportunities for both parties to learn from each other. Possible activities participants might take part in include: regular staff meetings; communications or public relations meetings; discussions on fundraising, development, or proposals; discussions on specific projects or programs; technical meetings; organizational events; public events and networking opportunities; job shadowing; one-on-one meetings with relevant staff members; working as part of a team on a project or event; client meetings; partner meetings.

YLAI Professional Fellows will dedicate some of their time to developing a Strategic Action Plan that might focus on expanding their customer/donor/member base, scaling their business, building a new initiative, etc. YLAI Fellowship Hosts can offer constructive feedback, resources, relevant research, local contacts, etc. that might help strengthen their participant’s Strategic Action Plan.

We recommend that you set aside time for brief daily check-ins, make sure your participant has a clear understanding of their daily schedule, and check in weekly with a local YLAI Professional Fellows Program staff member. These local staff members and the full-time YLAI Team in Washington, DC will be there to support you throughout the program!

The U.S. Department of State will provide accident and sickness coverage for the duration of the U.S. exchange.

No. YLAI Professional Fellows will be provided with local lodging in their fellowship city and a stipend for meals, incidentals, and transportation.

Professional Fellows are between 21-35 years old.

Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Aruba, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Curacao, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, St. Maarten, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Uruguay, and Venezuela.

Check out our interview with Matt, a Fellowship Host from Kansas City.  He worked closely with Gustavo, a YLAI Fellow from Paraguay, and even had the opportunity to continue that relationship in Asunción a few months later as part of the YLAI Reverse Exchange.


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