December 6, 2019

2019 Citizen Diplomacy Action Fund Winners!

Congratulations to the 25 U.S. exchange alumni teams who will implement projects in the United States and in 15 countries around the world.

We are excited to announce the winners of the inaugural Citizen Diplomacy Action Fund for U.S. Alumni! The 25 winning projects will increase the U.S. government’s investment in international exchanges by supporting public service projects using the skills and knowledge of U.S. citizen alumni who traveled abroad on U.S. government-funded exchange programs.

We look forward to following their progress as they implement these innovative projects that will advance the following key foreign policy priorities: Advance science, technology, health, and innovation; build civic participation, good governance, and resilient communities; empower women and girls; foster alumni network development; foster economic prosperity; and, promote inclusion and educational opportunities. 15 of the projects will take place abroad in collaboration with U.S. embassies in those countries.

Funded by the U.S. State Department and implemented in partnership with Partners of the Americas, future Citizen Diplomacy Action Fund for U.S. Alumni competitions will be held in 2020 and 2021.

2019 Citizen Diplomacy Action Fund Winners by Theme

Advancing Science, Technology, Health, and Innovation (3 Winners)

Adolescent Health in Rural Ghana will increase health and accessibility to education by increasing knowledge and understanding in thirteen schools in Ghana about mental health, reproductive health, and HIV prevention. The alumni team will also provide girls with sanitary pads created from local resources, thereby increasing their ability to attend school. The team will reach at least 1,500 rural adolescent girls and boys, 70 teachers, and 100 mothers. (Alumni team: Mandela Washington Fellowship Reciprocal Exchange)

Create Dignity, Prosperity & WASH Access in Namibia will strengthen the health and safety of more than 1,300 school children in Windhoek by improving the sanitation infrastructure in schools while promoting health and hygiene practices. The project will be sustained through partnerships with local organizations. (Alumni team: Mandela Washington Fellowship Reciprocal Exchange Program)

Growing Agricultural Literacy for Food Security will increase the accessibility to healthy foods in Haiti and the United States by teaching STEM-based methods in hydroponics, permaculture, and satellite-based precision agriculture to citizens, farmers, and scientists. The alumni team aims to reach 80 people in communities they have identified as having a unique set of environmental, cultural, and technological challenges relating to food security. (Alumni team: Fulbright U.S. Student Program)

Building Civic Participation, Good Governance, and Resilient Communities (4 Winners)

Ana Lulu: Voicing the Islands will stimulate dialogue in Hawaii with the Micronesian diaspora to strengthen positive relationships among communities and improve cross-cultural understanding. Through the innovative use of storytelling and theatre, young artists will create a performance that will stimulate discourse about the misperceptions and similarities across cultures. (Alumni team: Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program)

Nationwide Teen-Led Voter Registration Drives will increase democratic participation among youth in the United States through non-partisan voter registration drives run by nearly 700 youth in 100 schools and communities. The alumni team anticipates registering a total of 10,000 people. (Alumni team: Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship, Fulbright English Teaching Assistant)

Reimagining Haiti: Public Service Leadership will strengthen civil society in Haiti by creating the groundwork for an Institute of Public Service. Through community meetings and dialogues, the alumni team will develop curricular modules for public servants using adult learning methods and focusing on hands-on learning to build the skills and confidence of local leaders. (Alumni team: American Arts Incubator Program, Boren Scholarship Program, Fulbright Specialist Program, Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program, Fulbright U.S. Student Program, Peace Corps)

Supporting Social/Emotional Learning seeks to strengthen resiliency among youth who have faced trauma. The alumni team will use the same training in trauma-informed teaching to staff at a U.S. public school, a Greek refugee camp (Lesvos), and a Greek middle school. Sustainability will be achieved by implementing a "train-the-trainer" model including 14 NGOs in Lesvos that offer learning opportunities for refugee youth. (Alumni team: Fulbright U.S. Student Program, Fulbright Service Program, Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship, Fulbright Teachers for Global Classrooms, Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching)

Empowering Women and Girls (6 Winners)

Digital Toolbox for Survivors of Sexual Violence will increase access to resources in the Denver Metro Area that support survivors of sexual violence. A smartphone app, "Grounding, Psycho-education, and Services (GPS): An Empowerment Toolbox for Survivors of Sexual Violence," will be designed following an empowerment-model for trauma-informed care that individuals can access in times of need and for crisis management. (Alumni team: Fulbright U.S. Student Program)

Interactive Comic Books and Storytelling will address gender-based violence in Colombia by empowering survivors to tell their stories through comic books and art. In partnership with the Foundation Natalia Ponce de Leon, the alumni team will leverage the popularity of comic books and superheroes to address a complex social issue and empower women with positive role models. The project will engage up to 100 beneficiaries through workshops and aspires to reach 35,000 readers at the Colombia Comic Con. (Alumni team: American Arts Incubator, International Writing Program, Fulbright Hays U.S. Public Diplomacy Mission China Award, American Center for Mongolian Studies)

Mathematical Modeling for Girls (MMG) will strengthen math education in South Africa through an extracurricular mathematical modeling program for secondary school girls. The alumni team will partner with students and faculty at the University of Pretoria to develop and implement a pilot program in a township that will connect students with mentors while teaching them math skills. (Alumni team: Fulbright Specialist Program, Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program, American Council of Young Political Leaders)

Mediated Reality to Explore Women’s Empowerment in Nepal will use augmented and virtual reality projects, bringing murals and artworks alive to foster dialogue and raise awareness of women's conditions. The workshop will also advance entrepreneurship and innovation for social justice. (Alumni team: American Arts Incubator Program)

Moyo Honey - Malawi Women's Beekeeping Initiative will instill entrepreneurship skills among rural women in Southern Malawi through beekeeping and honey production. The alumni team will equip 15 women farmers and 90 members of three rural women’s groups with the skills and confidence to create income generating business and increase market access. Beekeeping will also promote afforestation, environmental conversation, and food security in a region acutely affected by deforestation and declining soil diversity. (Alumni team: Peace Corps, Mandela Washington Fellowship Reciprocal Exchange)

She Believes in Belize: A Women's Sport Summit will build on the alumni team’s project initiated while on their exchange in Belize. "She Believes in Belize," a week-long, country-wide sports summit for stakeholders in sport- and youth-related organizations, will increase awareness of gender disparities in Belizean sports while strengthening leadership and sports skills of women and girls. (Alumni team: International Sports Programming Initiative)

Fostering Alumni Network Development (4 Winners)

IExChange 2020 - International Education Exchange will be a day-long TEDx-style conference to increase the participation of U.S. minority populations in international exchanges. The conference, featuring alumni of a variety of international exchanges, is designed to facilitate career-related alumni-student dialogues and strengthen alumni networks. The alumni team will engage 100 individuals in person at the conference and reach another 2000 students virtually by live streaming the conference for universities underrepresented in international exchange programs. (Alumni team: Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship, Critical Language Scholarship, Fulbright U.S. Student Program, Fulbright English Teaching Assistant Program)

Navigating Life Post-Exchange Experience will provide professional development and networking opportunities to recently returned exchange alumni to bring their international skills to the marketplace. The project addresses three primary challenges: providing continuous development of exchange alumni beyond the length of their individual programs; building and strengthening professional networks among alumni; and creating additional pathways between exchange program participants and public and private sector employers seeking prospective talented alumni with foreign language skills and global knowledge. (Alumni team: Critical Language Scholarship, National Security Language Initiative for Youth)

Returned Peace Corps Volunteers Continued Service is a program designed to bring the knowledge and service-minded spirit of Return Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs) to the United States by connecting them with the migrant farmworker community around Immokalee, Florida. The alumni team aims to engage up to 100 RPCVs and up to 600 migrant adults and children for programs that will provide necessary skills among the migrant population including English acquisition, community gardens, and nutrition education, among others. (Alumni team: Peace Corps)

We Are America - Increasing Diversity in Exchanges will increase the participation of minority, low-income, and community college students in international exchanges. Exchange alumni across the United States will conduct a series of on-campus informational sessions at higher education institutions throughout Illinois, Florida, Indiana, Iowa, Mississippi, Alabama, and the Virgin Islands. Along with engaging more than 275 students directly, the alumni team will create a network of exchange alumni willing to support students looking to apply for U.S. government-sponsored exchange programs. (Alumni team: Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program, Critical Language Scholarship Program, Peace Corps)

Fostering Economic Prosperity (2 Winners)

Chef Stories: Beyond the Cuisine will connect immigrant and minority culinary entrepreneurs in Denver to the broader community by organizing five dinner-and-discussion events centered on the chefs’ stories and how using food as medicine – and the traditions within their food culture – creates a foundation for healthy living. The alumni team will use digital media to document their work and use it to encourage cross-cultural exchange and healthy lifestyles. (Alumni team: Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program, Fulbright U.S. Student Program)

Women's Entrepreneurial Training will instill entrepreneurial and financial skills in 30 Kenyan women to overcome the exploitation of women in the fish trade market. The team will introduce the AquaRech App, a critical tool for empowering women through access to reliable information, including a vetted network of fish farmers. (Alumni team: Peace Corps, Mandela Washington Fellowship Reciprocal Exchange)

Media Literacy (2 winners)

Future of Justice:  Media Literacy and Press Freedom will utilize a creative, historical, dramatic approach to engage current media organizations on the topics of media literacy and freedom of the press. The project will take place in New York City with a culmination at the International Media Literacy Research Symposium in Porto, Portugal. The events will contribute to a broader documentary project about the future of justice. (Alumni team: Fulbright U.S. Student Program, Career Connections Forum on Media Literacy)

Media Literacy Awareness Campaign seeks to create awareness among high school students about media literacy and encourage critical thinking to recognize biases, sensationalism, and unsupported claims in the media and public opinion. Current international exchange students in U.S. high schools will be trained and equipped to lead class presentations and host tabling events that generate conversations among youth about media literacy.  ross-cultural conversations will be stimulated through discussions about the successes and challenges of misinformation in the exchange students’ home countries and that of the United States. (Alumni team: Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange & Study (YES) Abroad) 

Promoting Inclusion and Educational Opportunities (7 Winners)

The Black Excellence Project seeks to improve literacy in disenfranchised communities in Washington, DC as a means of overcoming racial and economic achievement gaps. The alumni team will develop and implement an elective course open to 9th grade students of all racial and cultural backgrounds built around historical and contemporary Black figures who have made instrumental impact. Delving into social justice and strengthening identity, the project will build skills advantageous to all students in pursuit of college and career pathways. (Alumni team: Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program, Peace Corps, Fulbright U.S. Student Program)

Expanding Access to Education for the Deaf will strengthen education for deaf students in Ghana through public forums in marginalized regions of northern Ghana to address challenges to implementing Ghana’s Inclusive Education policy. The project will help the Ghana Education Service implement the national mandate that deaf students be included with their hearing counterparts in general education schools. This alumni team will engage diverse stakeholders, including deaf and hearing students, educators, parents, regional education officials, and media, to develop inclusive education strategies. (Alumni team: Fulbright U.S. Student Program, Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program)

Invitation to Success will increase career readiness for U.S. teens through a series of workshops about career possibilities, social media and basic website design, resume building, and budgeting basics. (Alumni team: Peace Corps)

Supporting Tunisian Students with Disabilities will provide teachers in Tunisia with concrete strategies for supporting students with diverse learning needs in the classroom through a workshop series and online coaching organized in collaboration with the Ministry of Education. The project will engage 30 educators, including primary and secondary teachers and college professors, to create a holistic approach for ensuring educational opportunities for students with disabilities. (Alumni team: Fulbright Specialist Program)

Translating Migration: Poetry as Inclusive Dialogue will highlight migrant writers from different cultures, experiences, and geographic locations in a variety of countries including the United States, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, The Philippines, Morocco, Jordan, Lebanon, Russia, and the United Kingdom. Through writing workshops, 50 poets will reach an additional 750 to 1,000 emerging poets. The project will culminate with an anthology of poems about the migrant experience from writers around the world with accompanying English translations. (Alumni team: Critical Language Scholarship, Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange & Study (YES) Abroad)

Weaving Poems: Teaching Storytelling with "Cordel" will bring a Brazilian expert to the United States to introduce Brazilian cordel poetry to 400 students and 120 adults across the communities of Indianapolis, IN, and Hilton Head and Charleston, SC. The project will empower people in their communities to express themselves through "analog" storytelling, engage in face-to-face discussions about topics that matter, and learn about another culture by way of an accessible folk-art form. (Alumni team: Fulbright English Teaching Assistant Program)