Citizen/Professional/Youth Exchange

Alliance member organizations, in conjunction with the Department of State, facilitate a variety of citizen, professional, and youth exchange programs, including inbound (foreign participants coming the United States) and outbound (American participants going abroad).

The Office of Citizen Exchanges in the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) at the Department of State sponsors professional, youth, cultural, and sports exchange programs to facilitate cooperation and collaboration between the people of the United States and other countries throughout the world. Through grants both to individual American experts and to American nonprofit institutions, including Alliance members, the office supports projects that promote sustained and substantive contact among American and foreign professionals, artists and performers, coaches and athletes, and youth communities.

Professional exchanges focus on a variety of themes of global concern – such as health, climate change, economic development, and government – and are generally conducted through two-way exchanges: Americans travel abroad to understand shared values and challenges with audiences overseas, and their foreign counterparts visit the United States to learn how Americans manage these issues. Activities include seminars, workshops, and internships, as well as site visits to organizations and institutions throughout the United States and in countries overseas.

The International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) is the flagship ECA professional exchange program. IVLP annually brings to the United States approximately 5,000 foreign nationals from all over the world to meet and confer with their professional counterparts and to experience America firsthand. The visitors, who are selected by American Foreign Service Officers overseas, are current or potential leaders in government, politics, media, education, the arts, business, and other fields.

Youth programs promote ties between the United States and other countries through exchange programs for high school students that promote mutual understanding, leadership development, educational transformation, and democratic ideals. Opportunities for students to travel to the United States include academic year exchanges and intensive, short-term programs. These youth programs also support online education programs, as well as language training programs for U.S. students at the pre-college level.

Cultural programs focus on American artists, filmmakers, musicians, and other specialists who demonstrate the creativity and diversity of American society. Cultural exchanges use the arts to address such issues as tolerance, conflict resolution, intellectual property rights, HIV/AIDS awareness, and governance, as well as accountability in management of cultural institutions. Efforts are made to reach out to non-elite audiences that have little direct exposure to American culture.

Sports programs support individual and institutional grants designed to promote mutual understanding and long-lasting ties between the United States and other countries through sports initiatives. Sports Envoys are Americans who promote positive health practices, teamwork, and respect for diversity to youth audiences overseas. Sports Visitors are nominated by U.S. Embassies abroad to travel to the United States for technical sports training, sports management, conflict resolution training, and exposure to valuable U.S. sports contacts, and are then encouraged to return to conduct in-country clinics for youth with their new skills. The International Sports Programming Initiative awards grants to nonprofit institutions and organizations to conduct projects that enhance and improve the infrastructure of youth sports and fitness programs around the world.

The following Alliance members partner with the State Department in administering federally funded citizen, professional, and/or youth exchange programs:

Professional/International Visitor Leadership Program

Cultural Vistas


Global Ties U.S. [formerly knows as National Council for International Visitors (NCIV)]

Institute of International Education (IIE)


Meridian International Center

World Learning

High school (youth)

AFS Intercultural Programs, USA

AIFS Foundation

American Councils for International Education: ACTR/ACCELS


ASSE International Student Exchange Programs

AYUSA Global Youth Exchange

Center for Cultural Interchange (CCI)

CIEE: Council on International Educational Exchange

Cultural Homestay International

PAX - Program of Academic Exchange

STS Global Studies Inc.

Youth For Understanding USA (YFU USA)

Other citizen

Sister Cities International