Call for Letters of Interest
The J. Christopher Stevens Virtual Exchange Initiative (the Stevens Initiative), developed in partnership with the Stevens Family, and with significant involvement from the MacArthur Foundation, is a multilateral public-private partnership designed to increase people-to-people exchange between youth in the United States and the Middle East and North Africa as a lasting tribute to the legacy of Ambassador Chris Stevens. Through intensive, structured online engagements between youth at various education levels, the Initiative will increase mutual understanding and equip a generation of globally minded youth with the skills and aptitudes they need to succeed in the 21st century.
The Initiative is housed at the Aspen Institute and is a collaboration between the family of Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, the U.S. Department of State, the Bezos Family Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation, the governments of the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Algeria and Morocco, and Microsoft, Mozilla, and GoPro. Visit our WEB SITE for more information.
The introduction of technology into the lives of young people is changing the way they engage with the rest of the world. Increased connectivity is inspiring global citizenship, driving young people to seek connections with peers outside of their local communities, and encouraging them to tackle local and global challenges. Yet virtual connections made in the unmediated space of the Internet also have the potential to fuel misunderstanding and division rather than foster mutual respect and cooperation. Developing young people’s understanding of other cultures and diverse perspectives, and equipping them with the tools they need to communicate and cooperate with confidence, is critical to ensuring that the power of global connectivity is harnessed for good and lays the foundation for a safer and more prosperous world.
The Stevens Initiative will support organizations that run virtual and physical exchange programs to deepen the impact and scale up the reach of their programs in the United States and in the Middle East and North Africa. The Initiative seeks to equip young people with a sense of global citizenship and with 21st century skills, including language, digital literacy, and cross-cultural communication. It will share best practices and support research to address which methods have a measurable impact and have the potential to reach all young people as the field grows.
The Stevens Initiative will provide funding, through merit-based competitions, for organizations to administer virtual and physical exchange programs between youth in the United States and the Middle East and North Africa. The first cycle of the competition opens on October 1, 2015. U.S. organizations are eligible to apply for subawards during the first cycle of the competition, and organizations in other countries will be eligible to apply for subawards during the next cycle of the competition, which will be opened in 2016 at a time to be determined.