An official website of the United States government

Call for Applications: Spring 2024 YSEALI Academic Fellowship
September 18, 2023

Poster for the call for applications for Spring 2024 YSEALI Academic Fellowship Program

The U.S. Embassy in the Philippines is pleased to announce the application call for the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) Academic Fellowships for Spring 2024!

Program Overview  

The U.S. Embassy in the Philippines invites nominations for the Spring 2024 YSEALI Academic Fellowship from candidates from the Philippines interested in the topics of Civic Engagement, Environmental Issues, and Social Entrepreneurship & Economic Development.  These five-week, in person programs will take place from mid-April through mid-May.  

The Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) is the U.S. government’s signature public diplomacy program, providing skills training to youth in Southeast Asia.  YSEALI seeks to build the leadership capabilities of youth in the region, strengthen ties between the United States and Southeast Asia, and nurture a community of leaders who work across borders to solve shared issues. The YSEALI Fellowship brings exceptional young leaders from Southeast Asian countries to the United States to further develop their professional and leadership skills.  The Study of the U.S. Branch implements the YSEALI Academic Fellowship for young leaders aged 18-25. 

Program Themes 

The YSEALI Academic Fellowship is an intensive short-term academic program whose purpose is to provide groups of young leaders with a deeper understanding of the United States and a particular theme while enhancing their leadership skills.  The Fellowship will focus on one of three themes: Civic Engagement, Environmental Issues, or Social Entrepreneurship and Economic Development.

The five-week program will include seminar discussions, readings, group presentations, and lectures.  Educational travel, site visits, leadership activities, and volunteer opportunities within the local community will complement the coursework and classroom activities.  During the academic residency, participants will also have opportunities to engage in educational and cultural activities outside the classroom.  If conditions allow, the Fellowship will include an educational study tour to other areas of the United States where they will meet with local, state, private, and non-profit organizations working in the field.  Note that if the program must take place virtually, Fellows will engage in similar activities online.

The YSEALI Academic Fellowship on Civic Engagement will provide Fellows with an overview of how citizens have shaped U.S. history, government, and society.  The Fellowship will define civic engagement, examine its development in the United States, and explore active citizenship, community building, economic development, grassroots activism, and volunteerism.  Other topics, such as civil rights, social justice, entrepreneurship, ethics, leadership, and media, will be discussed.  Fellows will also meet with community leaders, entrepreneurs, and representatives of non-profit organizations.  Throughout the Fellowship, participants will develop innovative and practical plans to become engaged citizens in their own communities.  The University of Nebraska – Omaha and Arizona State University will each conduct and host one Institute.  The Fellowship on Civic Engagement will be held from April 20 to May 22, 2024.

The YSEALI Academic Fellowship on Environmental Issues will explore the role that environmental policy has played in the economic and political development of the United States.  The Fellowship will use experiential learning techniques to expose participants to current themes in the field, including climate change, sustainable development/sustainable agricultural practices, food security, ecotourism, renewable energy generation, and water management and treatment.  Fellows will explore the issues from numerous angles: local grassroots activism and civic initiatives, impacts on marginalized communities, private sector approaches, global multilateral efforts, and federal government policies and regulation.  Finally, the Fellowship will explore environmental issues in the context of a globalized society and draw comparisons between the United States and the participants’ home countries.  Fellows will also meet with community leaders, and representatives of non-profit organizations.  The University of Montana and the East-West Center in Honolulu, HI will each conduct and host one Institute.  The Fellowship on Environmental Issues will be held from April 17 to May 22, 2024.

The YSEALI Academic Fellowship on Social Entrepreneurship and Economic Development will provide Fellows with an overview of entrepreneurial approaches employed to address social and economic issues.  The Fellowship will review the development, history, challenges, and successes of enterprises and community leaders, in the United States and globally.  Topics include, but are not limited to, trade, investment, financial literacy, banking, microfinance, organizational development and management, grant writing, innovation, emerging markets and risk analysis, strategic business planning, corporate social responsibility, and diversity in entrepreneurship.  Students will also meet with community leaders, entrepreneurs, and representatives of non-profit organizations.  The University of Connecticut and the University of Texas-Austin will each conduct and host one Institute.  The Fellowship on Social Entrepreneurship and Economic Development will be held from April 14 to May 18, 2024.

Candidate Description and Qualifications

The YSEALI Academic Fellows are either full-time undergraduate students or have graduated in the past four years, who demonstrate leadership through academic work, community involvement, extracurricular activities, or their profession.  

Applicants must be: 

  • Between the ages of 18 and 25 at the time of application, although exceptional applicants over 25 may be considered if they meet all other eligibility requirements 
  • A citizen and resident of the Philippines 
  • A full-time undergraduate student from college, university, or other institutions of higher learning; or have graduated in the past four years 
  • Proficient in reading, writing, and speaking English 
  • Not a U.S. citizen or permanent resident of the United States; 
  • Eligible to receive a U.S. J-1 visa  

Applicants must: 

  • Demonstrate interest, knowledge, or professional experience in Civic Engagement, Environmental Issues, or Social Entrepreneurship and Economic Development 
  • Demonstrate strong leadership qualities and potential in their university, place of work, and/or community 
  • Demonstrate a commitment or interest in community service, volunteerism, or mentorship 
  • Indicate a serious interest in learning about the United States and Southeast Asia as a region 
  • Be willing to actively participate in an intensive academic program, community service, and study tour 
  • Have a commitment to return to their home country to apply leadership skills and training to benefit their community, country, or the region of Southeast Asia 
  • Have little or no prior study or travel experience in the United States. 

Other Essential Program Information 
  • Program Funding: The program will cover all participant costs, including program administration; international and visa travel, travel allowances, domestic travel and ground transportation; book, cultural, mailing and incidental allowances; and housing and subsistence. If the program must shift to a virtual format, the program will provide a technology stipend to the Fellows. 
  • Program Requirements and Restrictions: Participants MUST attend all lectures, participate in all required organized activities, and complete all assignments. Family members and/or friends CANNOT accompany or join participants for any part of the program.  
  • English Language Ability: English Language proficiency is required to participate in this program. All candidates must be proficient in English so that they can actively participate in the academic program. Candidate interviews will be conducted in English. Host institutions will consider the varying levels of participants’ comprehension and speaking ability and will prepare lectures and discussions that meet the highest academic standards while using language appropriate for students where English is their second or third language.  
  • Housing and Meal Arrangements: Housing will be in shared or single university dorms on campus or full-service hotels within walking distance of most classroom activities. Male and female participants will be housed in separate quarters. In addition to regular group meals and a university meal plan, participants may have access to a kitchen to cook some meals on their own. It is important that nominees are aware of these arrangements and that they are comfortable with such accommodations. 
  • Reasonable Accommodations: Care will be taken to ensure that any special requirements regarding diet, daily worship, housing, and medical care are satisfied. Special accommodations will be made available to the greatest extent possible. Should a participant need to quarantine due to positive COVID-19 test results, accommodations will follow Center for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines.
  • Health Benefits: All participants will receive the Department of State’s Accident and Sickness Program for Exchanges (ASPE) health benefit during the U.S.-based in-person component, which provides coverage of up to $100,000 with a $25 co-pay per medical visit and a $75 co-pay per emergency room visit, for the duration of the program.  Pre-existing conditions may be covered up to $100,000, subject to policy exclusions and limitations. COVID-19 is treated like any other illness under the ASPE health benefits plan.  Information on the health benefit program may be found online at https://www.sevencorners.com/gov/usdos. at https://www.sevencorners.com/gov/usdos . 
  • Travel Policy: Participants are not allowed to arrive in the United States prior to the start date of the Fellowship or remain in the United States after the end date. Similarly, participants are not permitted to leave the Fellowship to visit relatives or friends while in the United States. If a relative or friend wishes to visit a participant, it will be considered on a case- by-case basis in consultation with the ECA program officer, the implementing partner, and the host institution. Participants are required to return to their home countries immediately following the end of the Institute. 
  • Grounds for Dismissal: Violations of program rules, host institution rules, or local, state, or federal lawscan be grounds for immediate dismissal from the program. 
  • Virtual Program Contingency: Should health, safety, and travel conditions pose significant challenges, the Academic Fellowship will pivot to a virtual format.  The virtual program would consist of a minimum of 36 hours of required programming with a combination of synchronous and asynchronous learning. To the extent possible, the virtual programming would include lectures, small group discussions, videos, readings, panels, site visits, leadership development, assignments, and individual and group activities. Participants are expected to fully participate in the entire virtual program from their location. 
  • Connectivity: Should the program need to pivot to a virtual format, participants would need access to a computer and a stable internet connection.  If a participant does not have access to these two items, the cooperative partners will work with the Fellow and post to facilitate access.    

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) 
  • What degree of English proficiency should I have?
    All participants must be fully proficient in English. Throughout the program, they will need to fully understand lectures, actively participate in discussions, and read and write assignments in English. 
  • Can an applicant who is a dual citizen (U.S. and country of origin) participate in the Academic Fellows Program?
    No. U.S. citizens and permanent residents (green card holders) are NOT eligible to participate in this program. 
  • I have been to the U.S. before; would I be disqualified?
    No. Applicants with very minimal experience in the United States may be considered for the program. However, priority will be given to applicants with no previous experience in the United States. 
  • If I have relatives in the U.S., would I have time to see them?
    Participants will NOT be allowed to leave the program to visit relatives or friends. Occasionally, it is possible for a relative or friend to visit the participant on a specific day designated by the host institution if the schedule permits. These situations will be addressed on a case-by-case basis in consultation with the program officer and the host institution.
  • Can I arrive early/late or stay after the program?
    No. Participants who choose to travel to the United States as YSEALI Academic Fellows are required to abide by the terms and conditions of the program. These terms state that Fellows may NOT arrive in the United States before the program start date or remain in the country after the close of the program. 

Application and Fellowship Timeline 
  • September 18, 2023: Application opens 
  • October 23, 2023 11:59 PM, Philippine Standard Time: Application closes 
  • November 2023: Notification of shortlisted applicants. 
  • January – February 2024: Announcement of results 
  • Between March-April 2024: Academic Fellowship Program (contingent upon health, safety, and travel conditions) 

APPLY HERE: bit.ly/ysealiphacadspring_2024 

Application deadline: October 23, 2023, 11:59 P.M. Philippine Standard Time 

  • Due to the number of applications received, the Secretariat may not be able to acknowledge receipt of each application. 
  • Only shortlisted applicants for interviews will be notified by November.
  • Successful applicants will be notified via email. Results will also be posted on the U.S. Embassy in the Philippines’ official Facebook page .
  • For questions, please email ysealiphilippines@state.gov 

Don’t forget to register at https://yseali.state.gov/  to receive updates!