Community Engagement Exchange Program

The Community Engagement Exchange Program is a transformational year-long leadership development program designed to enable civil society leaders, ages 20-27 from communities in over 100 countries to harness the power of networks, relationships, and information for the public good, specifically on issues related to civic dialogue and peacebuilding, open and participatory government, women and gender, resilience and sustainable development, and youth engagement. 

Program Goals:

  • Empower participants to assume greater leadership roles
  • Build civil society capacity
  • Strengthen participants’ ability to lead collaboratively
  • Develop a global civil society eco- system

CEE Program Includes:

  • Fully-funded, three-month practicum at a civil society organization in the U.S.
  • Online and face-to-face training in leadership and community engagement
  • Service Learning opportunities
  • Mentorship
  • Developmental support of Fellows’ projects in their home countries

Applications for the 2021 Community Engagement Exchange Program will be accepted between Monday, November 16 and Friday, December 23, 2020. Applications must be submitted online at by Wednesday, December 23, 2020 at 11:59 p.m. EDT to be eligible for the program.

Applications that are mailed, faxed or emailed to IREX will not be accepted. Please direct any questions after reading this document to

Eligibility Requirements:

Competition for the CEE Program is merit-based and open to emerging civil society and community leaders who meet the criteria below. Applications that do not meet these eligibility requirements will be disqualified and will not be reviewed by the selection committee. Please note that the U.S. Department of State and IREX reserve the right to verify all the information included in an individual’s application. If there is a discrepancy, or information is found to be false, the applicant will immediately be disqualified.

  • You are between the ages of 20 and 27 as of November 1, 2020
  • You are a citizen of one of the eligible countries listed below
  • You are living and working in your home country at the time of application
    Individuals with refugee status working on behalf of their home community may be given special consideration
  • You are working on a community engagement initiative in your home country, either in a professional or volunteer capacity, with a vision to pursue a career working to support civil society
  • You have a high level of proficiency in spoken and written English at the time of application. Semifinalists will be required to take or submit recent scores for a TOEFL or IELTS English language test
  • You are available to travel to the U.S. for three months from October 2021 to January 2022
  • You are committed to returning to your home country to complete a community-based project or CEE “Community Engagement Project (CEP)”
  • You are not a citizen or permanent resident of the U.S. and have not applied for U.S. permanent residency within the past three years
  • You are eligible to receive a U.S. J-1 visa
    Applicants who have participated in an exchange program sponsored by the U.S. Government must have fulfilled their two-year home residency requirement before applying for CEE
  • You are committed to returning to your home country for a minimum of two years after completing the program
  • You are not a current employee of or consultant for the U.S. Department of State or IREX or an immediate family member

Program One Pager (PDF 1 MB)
Application Instructions (PDF 184 KB)
Program Timeline (PDF 204 KB)