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July 1, 2020  • Institute Staff

Give NowThe Stevens Initiative believes every young person should have the knowledge, skills, and experiences necessary to prosper in an increasingly interconnected world. To achieve this, the program is building the field of virtual exchange, an emerging approach that uses technology to connect young people around the world to learn and work together. Virtual learning has become the norm; but extending that connection abroad is what gives students a global perspective. Ideally, international virtual exchanges would be used in every school, university, and community organization.

The Stevens Initiative has committed its resources to expanding the virtual-exchange field through three pillars of work: investing in promising programs, sharing knowledge and resources, and advocating for virtual-exchange adoption. Since its inception, the program has awarded 30 grants and, by summer 2021, will expand its reach to nearly 40,000 young people in 15 Middle East and North African countries and the Palestinian Territories, and in 45 US states, Puerto Rico, and Washington, DC.

The program has developed many new resources, including an annotated bibliography and an evaluation tool kit to support practitioners and learners. In addition to attending conferences, the Stevens Initiative hosts its own events. Its webinars are an important resource for those new to virtual exchanges and longtime practitioners alike. They teach best practices and promote peer-to-peer learning. Coupled with events such as information sessions and workshops, webinars can engage new audiences who can bring virtual exchange to even more communities around the world.

The Stevens Initiative demonstrates that virtual exchanges can make a vital impact on young people through a diverse set of offerings. Looking ahead, the program is working with practitioners to deepen the effects of the program and to improve methods. The Stevens Initiative will also mobilize leaders across several fields to expand virtual exchanges globally, continuing to foster an environment ripe for growth, innovation—and adoption.