Stevens Initiative Virtual Exchange Grant Competition 2018 for young People in the MENA region

Application Deadline: September 13th 2018

The Stevens Initiative has opened the 2018 competition to fund virtual exchange programs in the United States and the Middle East and North Africa in order to help young people gain the collaboration, language, problem-solving skills, technical and vocational skills, as well as the familiarity with and empathy for different perspectives, that they need to succeed in today’s economy and society.

The competition is open to organizations in the United States as well as the Middle East and North Africa. Interested and qualified parties are invited to submit letters of interest by September 13. The Stevens Initiative will invite full applications from selected organizations.

The Stevens Initiative is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State with funding provided by the U.S. Government and administered by the Aspen Institute. Additional funding is provided by the Bezos Family Foundation and the governments of Morocco and the United Arab Emirates. Private sector partners include Twitter and Vidyo. The Initiative has made two previous rounds of awards to 22 organizations that are reaching approximately 28,000 young people in 43 U.S. States, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico, and in 16 countries in the Middle East and North Africa and the Palestinian Territories.

The Initiative is interested in seeding new models as well as scaling proven models of virtual exchange through proposals focused on technology and computing, world affairs and global studies, business and entrepreneurship, and language learning and practice. Proposals must demonstrate that young people participating in the program will have the opportunity to build practical skills and global competencies through hands-on and collaborative activities.


  • The Stevens Initiative invites qualified non-profit organizations and educational institutions to submit proposals to scale proven models of virtual exchange and seed new models connecting young people between the United States and the Middle East and North Africa.
  • Applicants should review the competition rules below and submit a Letter of Interest, the first step of the application process, no later than September 13.
  • Organizations selected by an independent review committee will be invited to submit a full application this Fall.
  • Virtual exchange program activities would be expected to begin during the Fall 2019 academic term and continue through the Spring 2021 academic term. See below for more information about the competition and programming timeline.

Competition Features

When submitting a Letter of Interest (or if invited later, a full application):

  • Applicants should apply for either a Seeding or Scaling award, which have different parameters and selection criteria. Scaling award applicants are required to submit a response to the Initiative’s Survey of the Field (see form link below) alongside the Letter of Interest; this survey is optional for Seeding award applicants and open to non-applicants, as well.
  • Applicants are strongly encouraged to focus on one of the topics listed in the Priority Topics section below.
  • Applicants are expected to demonstrate how their proposed program would reach young people whose access to international exchange has been limited; see the Reaching Diverse Participants section below.
  • Applicants are encouraged to consider some of the Initiative’s particular interests listed in the Invitational Priorities section below.
  • Applicants may propose to conduct an impact evaluation of the program as a whole or of a specific program attribute. The evaluation component of these awards will be more intensive than the evaluation requirements of typical awardees. Applicants proposing to conduct an impact evaluation of the program as a whole or a specific program attribute are required to complete an Impact Evaluation Supplement included in the Letter of Interest (and subsequently full application) form.

Seeding and Scaling Awards

Seeding Awards support promising new virtual programs at the proof-of-concept stage to test, refine, and evaluate their models. These proposals must demonstrate the potential to find an institutional home, replicate, or scale in the future. This growth may include expansion across an educational institution, network of institutions (such as a district), or more broadly.
Approximate Number of Awards: 4 to 6
Award Duration: The period of performance of the awards will be 27 months, beginning April 1, 2019, and ending June 30, 2021. The first several months of the period of performance are intended to be used to prepare for the virtual exchange activities, which should begin during the Fall 2019 academic term and continue through the Spring 2021 academic term.
Anticipated Award Size Range: $100,000 to $300,000. The applicant must request an amount within this range to be eligible for selection. Also note that applicants can request no more than 80% of the amount of their Fiscal Year 2017 operating budget.
Number of Participants Range: 100 to 750 participants. The applicant must propose to directly reach a number of youth participants within this range to be eligible for selection.
Cost per Participant Range: $400 to $1,000 per participant. The applicant must submit a proposal to conduct the program for a cost per participant within this range to be eligible for selection. Cost per participant, for the purposes of this application process, is counted as the total amount of funding requested divided by the total number of young people who are proposed to directly and substantially participate in the program. Cost share does not count towards the permissible cost per participant range for this application process, so the cost per participant, when counting the requested funding and cost share, may be higher than the permissible range if the excess is covered by cost share.

For More Information:

Visit the Official Webpage of the Stevens Initiative Virtual Exchange Grant Competition 2018



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