YSEALI Academic Fellows Program


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 2022!

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 Academic 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.

The YSEALI Academic Fellowship is an intensive short-term academic program that provides young leaders with a deeper understanding of the United States and of a particular theme, while simultaneously enhancing their leadership skills.  The Fellowship will focus on one of three themes: Civic Engagement, Environmental Issues, and Social Entrepreneurship and Economic Development.  The Academic Fellowship will include a virtual academic residency from March through May 2022 and an integrated in-person experience approximately two to three weeks in length at a U.S. host institution in Fall 2022 or Spring 2023.  During the virtual academic residency, participants will engage remotely from their home countries in Fellowship activities, including academic sessions, site visits, leadership development exercises, and cultural activities.  If conditions allow, participants will travel to the United States in Fall 2022 or Spring 2023 to participate in educational and cultural activities inside and outside the classroom, lectures, and site visits to local communities.  The in-person component in the United States will be organized considering all necessary safety guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and state, local, and campus authorities.

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 United States, and explore topics such as active citizenship, community building, economic development, grassroots activism, and volunteerism.  Other topics discussed are civil rights, social justice, entrepreneurship, ethics, leadership, and media.  Fellows will also have the opportunity to meet with community leaders, entrepreneurs, and representatives of nonprofit organizations.  Throughout the Fellowship, participants will develop innovative and practical plans to become engaged citizens in their communities. The University of Nebraska – Omaha and Arizona State University will conduct and host the Fellowship.

B. YSEALI Academic Fellowship on Environmental Issues

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 regulations.  Finally, the Fellowships will explore environmental issues in a globalized society and draw comparisons between the United States and the participants’ home countries.  Fellows will also have the opportunity to meet with community leaders and representatives of nonprofit organizations.  The University of Montana and the East-West Center will conduct and host the Fellowship.

C. YSEALI Academic Fellowship on Social Entrepreneurship and Economic Development

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 women and minorities in entrepreneurship.  Fellows will also have the opportunity to meet with community leaders, entrepreneurs, and representatives of nonprofit organizations.  The University of Connecticut and the University of Texas-Austin will conduct and host the Fellowship.

III. Fellowship Qualifications

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, and who demonstrate leadership through academic work, community involvement, extracurricular activities, or their profession.

Priority will be given to applicants from non-elite backgrounds, from rural and urban areas, and with little or no prior experience in the United States or elsewhere outside the Philippines.  Applications are encouraged from underserved groups, including indigenous groups, ethnic minority communities, the LGBTQI+ community, and candidates with disabilities. Host universities will provide special accommodations for YSEALI Academic Fellows with disabilities as needed.

Applicants must 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;
  • Not a U.S. citizen or permanent resident of the United States;
  • A full-time undergraduate college student or have graduated in the past four years; and
  • Proficient in reading, writing, and speaking English.

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, 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; and
  • Be willing to actively participate in an intensive virtual academic program, community service, and study tour.

IV. Other Essential Program Information

A. Program Model

The virtual program will consist of a minimum of 36 hours of required programming and synchronous and asynchronous learning.  To the extent possible, the virtual programming will include lectures, small group discussions, videos, readings, panels, site visits, assignments, and individual and group activities.  Fellows are required to participate in the virtual program from their home country fully.  Fellows must complete the virtual program to continue to the in-person program in the United States.  However, if a Fellow cannot continue onto the in-person U.S. component of the program, they will still receive ECA alumni status and be eligible for all ECA alumni benefits after completion of the virtual program.

B. Technology Requirements

To participate in the initial virtual program component in their home country, Fellows must have access to a computer and a stable internet connection.  If a Fellow does not have a computer or adequate internet, the fellowship program administrators will work with the Fellow to facilitate computer access on an as-needed basis.  For the in-person component of the program, the host institutions will provide Fellows with access to a computer and internet.

C. Participation

Participants are expected to engage in all program activities actively. Therefore, they should notify the host institution immediately of any issues with their online access during the duration of the program and any difficulties affecting their participation. Participants must complete the entire virtual program to participate in the in-person program component in the United States.  Candidates should be aware that they are applying for an intensive, rigorous academic program and are expected to fully participate in all aspects of the program.

D. Housing and Meal Arrangements for the In-Person Component

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. Host institutions will ensure that any special requirements regarding diet, daily worship, housing, and medical care are satisfied.  It is essential that candidates are aware of these arrangements and that they are comfortable with such accommodations.

E. Health Benefits

All participants will receive the Department of State’s coverage of $100,000 with a $25 co-pay for the duration of the program.  Pre-existing conditions may be covered up to $100,000 subject to policy exclusions and limitations.  The Accident and Sickness Program for Exchanges (ASPE) also covers up to $500 for routine COVID-19 testing requirements in the United States. COVID-19 is treated like any other illness under the ASPE policy.  Information on the health benefits program may be found online at https://www.sevencorners.com/gov/usdos.

F. Program Funding

The program will cover all participant costs, including international travel costs; technology allowances for the virtual program as needed; travel allowances; program administration; domestic travel and ground transportation; book, cultural, mailing, and incidental allowances; and housing and subsistence.

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?  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. 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.
  5. 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.

VI. Application and fellowship timeline

  • October 8, 2021: Application opens
  • November 15, 2021: Application closes
  • December 1-3, 2021: Shortlisted applicants are invited for an interview
  • March-May 2022: Fellowship Virtual Academic Residency
  • Fall 2022 or Spring 2023: Fellowship In-person component (contingent upon health, safety, and travel conditions)

APPLY HERE: https://bit.ly/ysealiphacadspring2022

Application deadline: November 15, 2021, 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.
  • Shortlisted applicants for interviews will be notified by December 1-3, 2021.
  • 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.