YSEALI Academic Fellows Program

YSEALI Academic Fellows Program

Call for Applications: YSEALI Academic Fellowship (Spring 2020)

The Public Affairs Section of the U.S. Embassy in the Philippines is pleased to announce the call for applications for the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) Academic Fellowships for Spring 2020!

I. Program Overview

The Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) is a public diplomacy program designed to advance regional strategic goals, break down barriers that separate the next generation of leaders in Southeast Asia, and link those emerging leaders to the United States.  To this end, the YSEALI Fellowship will bring 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 aimed at young leaders aged 18-25.  All programs will conclude in Washington, D.C. to allow for networking with policy makers, government representatives, businesses, and think tanks.

The YSEALI Academic Fellowships are intensive short-term academic programs whose purpose is to provide groups of young leaders with a deeper understanding of the United States, and a particular theme, while simultaneously enhancing their leadership skills.  The Fellowship will focus on one of three themes: Civic Engagement, Environmental Issues and Natural Resource Management, and Entrepreneurship and Economic Development.  The five-week programs will consist of a balanced series of seminar discussions, readings, group presentations, and lectures.  The coursework and classroom activities will be complemented by educational travel, site visits, leadership activities, and volunteer opportunities within the local community.  The programs will include an academic residency component of approximately four weeks and a domestic study tour of approximately one week.  During the academic residency, participants will also have the opportunity to engage in educational and cultural activities outside of the classroom.  After the academic residency, Fellows will partake in an educational study tour to other parts of the United States where they will meet with local, state, private, and nonprofit organizations working in the field.  The Fellowship will then conclude in Washington, D.C.

II. Program Themes

A. YSEALI Academic Fellowship on Civic Engagement

The YSEALI Academic Fellowship on Civic Engagement will provide Fellows with an overview of how citizens have shaped U.S. history, government, and society both as individuals and groups.  The Fellowship will define civic engagement, examine its development in the U.S., and explore topics such as citizenship, community building, economic development, grassroots activism, political leadership, and volunteerism.  Other topics such as civil rights, entrepreneurship, ethics, leadership, and media will be discussed.  Fellows will also have the opportunity to leave the classroom to meet with community leaders, entrepreneurs, and representatives of non-profit organizations.  The University of Nebraska – Omaha and Arizona State University will each host one Fellowship on this theme from March 14 to April 18, 2020.

B. YSEALI Academic Fellowship on Environmental Issues and Natural Resource Management

The YSEALI Academic Fellowship on Environmental Issues and Natural Resource Management 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 natural resource management, sustainable development/sustainable agricultural practices, food security, ecotourism, energy generation (new and traditional forms), and water management and treatment.  The issues will be explored from numerous angles: local grassroots activism and civic initiatives, market-oriented approaches, and federal government policies and regulation.  Finally, the Fellowships 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 have the opportunity to leave the classroom to meet with community leaders, and representatives of non-profit organizations.  The University of Montana and the East-West Center will each host one Fellowship on this theme from March 25 to April 29, 2020.

C. YSEALI Academic Fellowship on Entrepreneurship and Economic Development

The YSEALI Academic Fellowship on Entrepreneurship and Economic Development will provide Fellows with an overview of entrepreneurial approaches that are employed to address social and economic issues.  The Fellowships will review the development, history, challenges, and successes of social enterprises and community leaders, in the United States and globally.  Topics may 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, women and minorities in entrepreneurship.  Students will also have the opportunity to leave the classroom to meet with community leaders, entrepreneurs, and representatives of nonprofit organizations.  The University of Connecticut and Brown University will each host one Fellowship on this theme from March 21 to April 24, 2020.

The U.S. government will cover all participant costs, including: international travel costs; travel allowances; program administration; domestic travel and ground transportation; book, cultural, mailing and incidental allowances; and housing and subsistence.

III. Qualifications

The YSEALI Academic Fellows are expected to be full-time undergraduate students from college, university, or other institutions of higher learning; or have graduated in the past four years, who demonstrate leadership through academic work, community involvement, extracurricular activities, or their profession.

Priority will be given to applicants from non-elite backgrounds, from both rural and urban areas, and with little or no prior experience in the United States or elsewhere outside of the Philippines.  Applications are encouraged from underserved groups including indigenous groups, ethnic minority communities, and candidates with disabilities.

Applicants must meet the minimum criteria:

  • Be a YSEALI member.  Register for free at http://yseali.state.gov
  • Between the ages of 18 and 25 at the time of application;
  • A citizen and resident of the Philippines;
  • A full-time undergraduate college student 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 U.S.;
  • Eligible to receive a United States J-1 visa.

Ideal candidates should:

  • Demonstrate interest, knowledge, or professional experience in any of the three Fellowship themes above.
  • 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 the Philippines to apply leadership skills and training to benefit their community;
  • Preferably have little or no prior study or travel experience in the United States.

IV. Other Essential Program Information

A. Housing and Meal Arrangements

Housing will be in university dorms or university hotels.  Fellows may be expected to share a room and bathroom with another student of the same gender.  Most meals will be provided at campus facilities, though Fellows may have access to a kitchen to cook some meals on their own.  It is important that candidates are aware of these arrangements and that they are comfortable with such accommodations.  Care will be taken to ensure that any special requirements regarding diet, daily worship, housing, and medical care are satisfied.

B. Health Benefits

All participants will receive the U.S. Department of State’s coverage of $100,000 with a $25 co-pay for the duration of the program.  Pre-existing conditions are not covered.

C. Program Requirements and Restrictions

Fellows are expected to fully participate in the academic program.  They should attend all lectures and organized activities, and complete assigned readings.  Violations of program rules, host institution rules, or local, state or federal laws can be grounds for immediate dismissal from the program.

V. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. How much free time will I have during the program?  There will be some free time during the program.  However, applicants MUST understand that this is an intensive academic program and they are expected to fully participate in all lectures, activities, site visits, and scheduled events.
  5. 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.
  6. Can I arrive early/late or stay after the Program?  No.  Participants who choose to travel to the United States as an YSEALI Academic Fellow are required to abide by the terms and conditions of the program.  These terms state clearly that student leaders may NOT arrive in the United States before the program start date or remain in the country after the close of the program.
  7. Can I miss one component of the program?  No.  All Fellows are expected to participate in all scheduled lectures, events, site visits, trips, and activities.

VI. Application and fellowship timeline

  • September 23, 2019: Application Opens
  • October 27, 2019: Application Closes
  • November 10-15, 2019: Shortlisted applicants are invited for interview
  • January/February 2020: Announcement of selected participants

APPLY HERE: https://bit.ly/2lZUMZP

Application deadline: October 27, 2019, 11:59 P.M.


  • Due to the number of applications received, the Secretariat may not be able to acknowledge receipt of each application.
  • Shortlisted applicants for interview will be notified by November 10-15.
  • Successful applicants will be notified via email by last week of January.  Results will also be posted at the U.S. Embassy in the Philippines’ official Facebook page on the same month.
  • For questions, please email ysealiphilippines@state.gov.