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The Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative (YLAI)

The Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative (YLAI)

The 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.

There are two active YLAI programs in Guatemala:

· YLAI Professional Fellows

· YLAI Network

YLAI Network

The YLAI Network is a vibrant community of young entrepreneurs and changemakers from across Latin America and the Caribbean committed to 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 promote economic growth and strengthen civil society. Joining the network provides access to digital resources, training and networking opportunities, and the

opportunity to connect with senior leaders in business and government as well as other young leaders working to create change in their communities. Join the YLAI Network here: https://ylai.state.gov/network/.

YLAI Professional Fellows Scholarship

The YLAI Fellowship Program is a six-week program for entrepreneurs, funded by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA). YLAI brings 280 promising leaders from Latin America, Canada, 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. More than 750 alumni of past YLAI Professional Fellows programs maintain a cohesive network across Latin America, the Caribbean, and Canada to support each other’s efforts to improve their own ventures, share best practices, and collaborate to reduce the opportunity gap and contribute to economic prosperity in their communities.

The call for applications for the 2024 YLAI cohort is open from January 18, 2023, to February 12, 2023.

YLAI Professional Fellows – 2024 Call for Applications

The YLAI Professional Fellows program is a six-week program designed for entrepreneurs. Due to the intensive nature of the YLAI Professional Fellows program, successful applicants must be focused fully on their professional development and program activities during the entirety of the six-week fellowship in the United States. Therefore, YLAI Professional Fellows is an unaccompanied program, which means no additional guests may join any YLAI fellow during the fellowship and all program activities must be completed in their entirety by each fellow.

The YLAI Fellowship includes:

· Four-Week Placement: In cities across the United States, YLAI Fellows gain valuable professional development skills and experience at U.S. entrepreneurial organizations related to the fellow’s business sector. Each fellow collaborates with their fellowship host on an Entrepreneurial Leadership Action Plan (E-LAP), which the fellow will implement upon return to their home country.

· YLAI Entrepreneurial Leadership Curriculum: The YLAI Professional Fellows program includes online and in-person coursework, developed by IREX and ASU, that combines technical entrepreneurship training and leadership development. Using the E-LAP, each fellow will set and achieve their entrepreneurial leadership goals.

· Orientation and YLAI Closing Forum in the United States: YLAI Fellows participate in the U.S. orientation in Tempe, Arizona, and the YLAI Closing Forum in Washington, D.C., as well as various networking events with business and social entrepreneurial leaders and U.S. government representatives.

· Post-Fellowship Sustained Engagement: After successful completion of the U.S. fellowship and the Entrepreneurial Leadership Curriculum, YLAI fellows continue their collaboration with U.S. partners and have access to ongoing professional development opportunities, small grants, mentorships, networking, and alumni activities. YLAI fellows will also have the opportunity to welcome a fellowship host to their country through the Outbound Program, sharing their expertise on the entrepreneurship climate in their country.

Eligibility Criteria and Applications

Interested persons who meet all the following requirements may apply:

· Be a Guatemalan citizen currently living in Guatemala. (U.S. citizens, dual citizens, or permanent residents are not eligible.)

· *Note: 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.

· Be between 25 and 35 years of age as of January 1, 2023.

· Possess a demonstrated track record of successfully growing their own business or social venture over at least two (2) years.

· Be an entrepreneur seeking to take their entrepreneurial leadership to the next level.

· Be a member of the YLAI Network.

· Possess an advanced English level, both spoken and written.

· Possess demonstrable leadership skills, highly motivated, and capacity to adapt.

· Be committed to the development of their communities through community service, volunteering, and/or other activities.

· Be eligible for a J-1 visa.

· Candidates with little or no prior U.S. experience will receive priority consideration.

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

· Applicants must be available to travel to the United States from January to February, 2024.

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

How to Apply

If you meet all requirements listed in this section, apply here: https://ylai.state.gov/fellowship/.

YLAI Program Timeline

– January 18, 2023 Call for applications for YLAI 2024 opens (4:00 p.m. Guatemala time)

– February 15, 2023 Call for applications for YLAI 2024 closes

– March-April 2023 Embassy conducts interviews of semifinalists

– June 2023 Confirmations of principal candidates and alternates

– November 2023 Virtual programming component launches prior to U.S. arrival of scholarship recipients

– December 2023-March 2024 Virtual curriculum modules are launched. Each intern completes various activities at their own pace and attends synchronous virtual events.

– March 2024 Fellows travel to the United States. Opening orientation takes place in Tempe, Arizona.

– April 2024 Program closing forum takes place in Washington, D.C.

– April 2024 Fellows return to Guatemala.

Financial Provisions

Financial provisions provided by the U.S. government include:

· J-1 visa support. (No visa support will be offered to dependents, as this is an unaccompanied program);

· Round-trip travel from Guatemala to the United States and domestic U.S. travel as required by the program;

· YLAI Entrepreneurial Leadership Curriculum coursework and mentoring;

· U.S. Orientation in Tempe, AZ, and YLAI Closing Forum in Washington, D.C.;

· Four-week professional placement with host organization;

· Limited accident and sickness benefit plan; and

· Housing and meal stipend during the program.