Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative (YLAI)

About YLAI

The Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative (YLAI) builds linkages between young leaders across the hemisphere. YLAI addresses the opportunity gap for youth, especially women, by empowering business and social entrepreneurs with the training, tools, networks and resources they need to transform their societies and contribute more fully to economic development and prosperity, security, human rights, and good governance in the hemisphere.

In Guatemala the two active YLAI programs are:

  • YLAI Network
  • YLAI Professional Fellows

YLAI Network

The YLAI Network is a vibrant community of young entrepreneurs and changemakers from Latin America and the Caribbean who are committed fostering economic development and prosperity, security, human rights, and good governance in the hemisphere. The YLAI Network is a signature part of the U.S. government’s efforts to increase partnerships with future leaders to help promote economic growth and strengthen civil society. Joining the network provides access to digital resources, training and networking opportunities, and the chance to connect with senior leaders in business and government, as well as other young leaders working to create change in their communities.

More information here:

YLAI Professional Fellows Program

The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) is pleased to announce that applications for the 2020 cohort of the Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative (YLAI) Program will open in August.  Please see the Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative website for updates and application information. The 2020 YLAI Professional Fellows cohort will have 280 participants.  The program will be implemented by IREX.

The YLAI Professional Fellowship has brought over 750 business and social entrepreneurs from 36 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean to the United States to collaborate with American counterparts in businesses across the country.  Through this exchange program, Fellows expand their entrepreneurial ventures by building leadership skills to advance social and economic development in their communities.  Each year, approximately 70 U.S. hosts visit or organize virtual exchanges with their Fellows to work on joint action plans.  YLAI also underscores the crucial role of small businesses at home and abroad, and supports the efforts of young innovators in our neighboring countries.

YLAI Professional Fellows – 2020 Call for Applications

The YLAI Professional Fellows program is a 6-week program for entrepreneurs, funded by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. YLAI brings 280 promising leaders from Latin America and the Caribbean each year to the United States to expand their leadership and entrepreneurial skills and network through skills-building workshops and opportunities to learn from and exchange with U.S. counterparts. This program is open to young entrepreneurs 25-35 years of age, selected for participation via a competitive application process.

Am I eligible for this Scholarship?

You must fulfill all the following requirements to be eligible:

  • Guatemalan citizen currently living in Guatemala. U.S. Citizens or permanent residents are not eligible.
  • 25 – 35 years of age
  • Have a demonstrated track record of successfully growing their own business or social venture for at least two (2) years
  • Entrepreneurs who are looking to take their entrepreneurial leadership to the next
  • Member of the YLAI Network
  • Advanced English level: spoken and written.
  • Leadership skills, highly motivated and capacity to adapt.
  • Committed to the development of your community through community service, volunteering or other activities.
  • Candidates with little or no prior U.S. experience will have a priority.
  • Be eligible for a J1 Visa
  • Venezuelan or Nicaraguan citizens currently living in Guatemala may also apply. Applicants must have residency or other type of legal permission that allows them to run a business or organization in Guatemala.

U.S. government employees are not eligible for this program.

The U.S. Department of State and IREX reserve the right to verify all the information included in the
application. If there is a discrepancy, or information is found to be false, the application will immediately
be declared invalid and the applicant ineligible.

YLAI Program Timeline

August 14, 2019 Application opens
September 18, 2019 Application deadline
September 2019 Applications reviewed by selection committee
October 2019 Applicants notified if selected as a semifinalist
November 2019 Semifinalist interviews reviewed by selection committee
January 2020 Applicants notified if selected as a finalist or alternate
June 2020 Travel to the U.S. and U.S. Orientation in Tempe, AZ
June – July 2020 Four-week professional placement at a U.S.-based host organization
July 2020 YLAI Closing Forum in Washington, DC
July 2020 Participants travel home to implement their E-LAP

Financial Provisions of the YLAI Professional Fellows Program

There is no fee to apply to become a YLAI Fellow. If selected for the YLAI Professional Fellows Program, the U.S. Government will cover all program costs. Financial provisions provided by the U.S. Government will include:

  • J-1 visa support, no visa support will be offered to dependents as this is an unaccompanied
  • program;
  • Round-trip travel from Fellow’s home country to the United States and domestic U.S. travel as
  • required by the program;
  • YLAI Entrepreneurial Leadership Curriculum coursework and mentoring;
  • S. Orientation in Tempe, Arizona and YLAI Closing Forum in Washington, D.C.;
  • Four-week professional placement with host organization;
  • A limited accident and sickness benefit plan; and
  • Housing and meal stipend during the program.