YLAI Fellowships

Become a YLAI Fellow Meet the YLAI Fellows Resource Library FAQ

For more information, please contact YLAI Professional Fellows Program Team at YLAI@meridian.org. For information on the application process, please email YLAIApply@meridian.org

The Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative (YLAI) empowers entrepreneurs to strengthen their capacity to advance their entrepreneurial ventures and effectively contribute to economic and social development in their communities. In fall 2018, 250 YLAI Professional Fellows from Latin America and the Caribbean will expand their leadership and entrepreneurial experience through fellowships at businesses and organizations across the United States. Through the YLAI Entrepreneurship Institute and the individualized Fellowships, YLAI Fellows will accelerate their ventures’ success and develop specific action plans to carry out upon return to their home countries. YLAI Fellows will build networks, linkages and lasting partnerships to attract investments and support for their entrepreneurial ventures.

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 25 and 35, and they will have at least 2 years of professional or entrepreneurial experience with their own venture. 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 20 cities throughout the United States for a customized fellowship from September 25 through October 19, 2018:

Organization City
Global Ties ABQ Albuquerque, NM
University of Texas at Austin Austin, TX
WorldBoston Boston, MA
Vermont Council on World Affairs Burlington, VT
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 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
WorldOregon Portland, OR
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.

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

Frequently Asked Questions

As a Fellowship Host, you will serve as a facilitator—teacher, role model, sounding board, and friend—focused on what can be reasonably accomplished during the time the Professional Fellow will spend at your 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 Host. While the Professional Fellows will have opportunities for networking with potential partners and/or investors, they will be advised that the main objective of the program is to help them gain the skills necessary to further develop their business or organization. Therefore, they should not come to the U.S. expecting to secure funding for the program.

The YLAI Professional Fellows Program is funded by the U.S. Department of State. 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 Professional Fellow. Your business or organization 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 Fellow’s home country for continued collaboration, cultural immersion, and professional programming.

YLAI Fellowship Hosts and their businesses or organizations will not be compensated financially for their participation in the program.  Please talk to past Fellowship Hosts from your community to see what they have gained from the program.

"We were surprised by how much of a win-win the program turned out to be." - YLAI 2017 Fellowship Host

Our goal is to make this a two-way exchange that creates opportunities for both parties to learn from each other. Possible activities 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; and 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. Fellowship Hosts can offer constructive feedback, resources, relevant research, local contacts, etc. that might help strengthen their Fellow’s Strategic Action Plan.  The first day with the Fellow will be September 25.  The final day will be October 19.

You will receive a Fellowship Host Manual, the Fellow’s application, an email introduction to your Fellow in advance, an in-person Fellowship Host Orientation, and ongoing support from the local staff members and the YLAI Team in Washington, DC.

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 25-35 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.


  Back to YLAI Page