Meridian International Center to Implement Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative (YLAI) Professional Fellows Program

April 25, 2016

Media Contacts: Monique McSween | (202) 939-5882


Program signifies important step in Obama Administration’s Commitment to Fostering the Development of an Entrepreneurship Network in the Americas

Washington, DC: Meridian International Center is pleased to announce that it will implement the Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative (YLAI) Professional Fellows Program in October and November 2016. As part of the fellowship, 250 young entrepreneurs from Latin America and the Caribbean will travel to the United States and become part of the larger YLAI Network which will provide online resources and a space for young leaders to make regional connections that will help them foster positive change in their local communities.  This is an important step in fulfilling the Obama Administration’s commitment to cultivating successful entrepreneurs in the Americas.

The five-week YLAI Professional Fellows Program, sponsored by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. Department of State, comes on the heels of Meridian’s successful implementation of the YLAI Pilot Program in February and March 2016. This program will place business and social entrepreneurs in start-ups, small businesses, non-governmental organizations, and similar entities.  The participants will further develop their business or social venture plans by engaging in skills-building workshops, and they will have the opportunity to learn from U.S. counterparts by job-shadowing and participating in day-to-day operations at American organizations.  YLAI Professional Fellows will also develop stronger ties with participants from Latin America and the Caribbean, as well as with their U.S. mentors.

The YLAI Professional Fellows Program will begin on October 5 in Dallas, Texas. Participants will then engage in four-week fellowships in cities throughout the U.S.  The program will wrap-up with a Closing Summit in Washington, DC, which will focus on leadership and skills development training.

YLAI Professional Fellows will come from the following countries: Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Curação, 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, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Uruguay, and Venezuela.

To complement the U.S.-based program, 45 U.S. mentors will travel to the region in spring 2017 to observe organizational practices at the fellows’ businesses, offer best practices, and monitor the progress of their action plans.  Additionally, U.S. mentors will participate in speaking events and small-scale trainings. Meridian, partner organizations, and YLAI Professional Fellows will provide recommendations based on the mentors’ engagement during the U.S.-based program and interest in business ventures in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Meridian is proud to partner with Atlas Corps and Entrepreneurs’ Organization for this program, as well as with community-based members and universities throughout the U.S. The website includes information about how to apply for the YLAI fellowship and how to sign up for the YLAI Network.

About Meridian International Center 

Meridian International Center is a premier nonprofit, global leadership organization headquartered in Washington, DC. Building on more than 55 years of experience, Meridian prepares U.S. and international leaders to meet global challenges and opportunities. Meridian’s suite of programs delivers the approach and environment for leaders to understand global issues and cultures, exchange ideas, collaborate on solutions, and build valuable relationships.

Meridian’s mission is to create innovative exchange, education, cultural, and policy programs that advance three goals:

  • Strengthen U.S. engagement with the world through the power of exchange.
  • Prepare public and private sector leaders for a complex global future.
  • Provide a neutral forum for international collaboration across sectors.

For further information, please contact the Meridian program team at

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