General AEIF Questions

General AEIF Questions

How do I join a team?

Step 1: Click on the "Join Project" tab at the top of the proposal

Step 2: Select the "Team Member Role" you want to have

Step 3: Click the "Confirm" button to join the project's team

Please note that project leaders cannot simply add members to the team. They can only click on the "Members" tab of their proposal and insert email addresses of alumni they want to invite to join their team. Those invited individuals will still have to manually confirm that they want to be on the team. 


Do proposals have to be submitted in English?

Yes. Only proposals in English will be considered.


Can I submit more than one project proposal?

An alumnus/na may not serve as a team leader on more than one project per category. An alumnus/na may, however, be a team member of several projects under the same category. An alumnus/na may serve as a team leader of multiple projects only if the projects fall under different project categories. No one may be a team leader or a team member for more than three projects.


How can I find other alumni to be on my team?

Search the Alumni Directory on the International Exchange Alumni website or contact the Public Affairs Section at your local U.S. Embassy or Consulate.


How will projects be evaluated?

Projects will be selected to ensure a balance of winners across the regions of the world. The relevant U.S. Embassy or Consulate, regional experts from the U.S. State Department, and the State Department’s Alumni Affairs Division will evaluate the projects based on:

  • Relevance of project to selected project category
  • Innovation
  • Feasibility
  • Degree of alumni involvement
  • Timeliness/relevance
  • Impact of project on defined project beneficiaries

Projects will also be evaluated based upon the number of votes they receive from alumni members of IEA during the finalist phase of the competition. The number of alumni "likes" will not impact the evaluation.

For a more details, visit the AEIF 2014 page.


What is an innovative project?

The State Department considers any project with uncommon methodology, subject matter, location, audience, and/or results to be innovative.


How can I show support for a project (?cheering? vs. ?voting?)?

During the first phase of AEIF, IEA members may click on the “smiley face” icon on the proposal of projects they like and want to cheer on.  These “cheers” convey expressions of support, but will not impact the evaluation of proposals.

During the finalist phases of AEIF, IEA members may click on the “thumbs up” icon on the proposal of projects they endorse. These “votes” will be totaled and factored into the final rank as finalist proposals are evaluated.

tips aeif 2013

Tips to Building a Strong Project Proposal


Create a name for your project and select the primary project category under which it falls.

The following themes were selected as project categories for AEIF 2014:

  • Empowering Women: Includes activities that enhance women’s and girl’s access to and/or leadership in the political process, economic opportunity, and education.
  • Outreach to Underserved Communities: Includes activities to benefit groups that have documented low levels of access to services and/or face barriers to participation in society. Examples include ethnic or religious minorities and the disabled. People living in geographically remote areas may also be considered underserved. Proposals to provide direct social services to a population are not allowed.
  • Entrepreneurship and Youth Employment: Includes activities to promote the culture of entrepreneurship or develop the entrepreneurial ecosystem, as well as activities that promote or enhance the employability of youth. Proposals to create for-profit businesses are prohibited.
  • Expanded Access to Education: Includes activities that enable all people to have an equal opportunity in education, regardless of social status, ethnicity, religion or disability.
  • Environmental Protection: Includes activities to educate and promote awareness of critical global environmental issues such as climate change, polar issues and renewable energy.
  • Government Transparency: Includes activities that promote the right and ability of citizens to access information to allow for effective public oversight.
  • Freedom of Expression: Includes a broad range of activities that empower people to freely communicate their opinions and ideas with anyone who is willing to receive them.
  • Conflict Resolution: Includes activities that address current and emerging conflicts aimed at addressing the underlying causes of destabilizing violence. Proposals that address an urgent or unmet need that empower youth and women are the most competitive.
  • Citizen Security: Includes activities aimed at reducing levels of crime and violence and promote rule of law. May include activities that provide positive alternatives for at-risk youth and community policing programs.
  • Promoting Civil Society: Includes activities that support and promote public participation in voluntary associations that support free, fair and democratic societies. Proposals that provide training to staff of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are appropriate, however, proposals to fund administrative costs for NGOs are not allowed.

Where will the project take place?

Explain what country(ies) will benefit from your project. You can select one or several countries.


Describe your innovative idea

Provide a summary of your project idea, explaining its goal and stressing how it is innovative.


What impact will your project have?

What are your goals? - Define what you hope to achieve by implementing your project.

Who will benefit? – Define what groups or communities will benefit from your project.

What results do you anticipate? – Define the measureable result(s) that will come from your project?

How will you measure success? – Explain how you will measure your success in attaining your defined results? The type of measurement you employ will depend on your project. Take this opportunity to think about your project critically and creatively to see what the success and impact of your project will be. For example, previous proposals have measured success using before and after surveys or by measuring how many women register to vote after attending their training on women in the democratic process.

How will the project be publicized? - How will you use social media, print news, or other forms of media to share information about your project?


Which local partners will be involved?

You are encouraged to work with partner organizations, including public and private organizations, when it supports your project goals. This is not a requirement.


Project Team

The team leader is the alumna/us who submits a project. All others on a project are called team members. Once a team leader has created a project, he/she can invite other alumni to join the project by sending them a link to the project and asking them to click the "Join us" link at the bottom of the project.

  • Before the first phase of the competition closes on April 23, 2014, each team must have at least 5 members who are current or former participants of a U.S. government-sponsored exchange program. Teams can have non-alumni members, but these team members will not be included in team’s total members for the purpose of this competition. Projects that do not meet this requirement will not be considered.
  • U.S. citizens can be team members but, because awards are distributed through U.S. Embassies and activities must be carried out abroad, no U.S. citizen can serve as a team leader on any project.
  • Each team must have at least 3 non-U.S. citizen alumni team members.
  • Each team can have up to 2 U.S. alumni team members.
  • Each team must include at least one alumnus/na from a State Department-sponsored exchange program.
  • Multi-country alumni cooperation is encouraged where it serves the needs of a project. This is not a requirement.

What are the roles and expectations of team members?

When an alumnus/na joins a project as a team member, he/she will be prompted to select one of the following roles:

  • Project Implementer:  Responsible for implementing a range of project activities, in consultation with the team leader.
  • Administrative Coordinator:  Responsible for providing administrative support for the project.
  • Finance/Accounting:  Responsible for managing the funds, including fulfilling any financial reporting requirements associated with funding for the project.
  • Media Outreach and Promotion:  Responsible for a range of promotional activities, including liaising with the media.
  • Technical Support: Responsible for various technical aspects of the project (for example, creating/maintaining a project website).
  • Advisor: Responsible for advising the team leader and team members on various aspects of the project development and/or implementation.
  • Other: May include other responsibilities not outlined above.

Multiple alumni may select the same role.  An alumnus/na who intends to fulfill multiple roles should select the role that best describes the majority of their project activities.  The team leader has the right to delete team members from his/her project(s) and to reassign roles.  Projects must have a minimum of five members in order to be eligible.  Projects need not fill all team member roles in order to be eligible.


Project Start Date and End Date

Projects must be completed within one year from the date that a winning team obtains funds. The State Department anticipates that funds will be distributed in July 2014.


Timeline of major implementation steps

Provide a dated list of the steps you will take to implement your project. This timeline should include steps from project preparation to implementation to evaluation.


Total Funding Requested

Alumni can request from $5,000 to $25,000 in support of their project.

AEIF fund can be used to pay for:

  • Intra-regional or in-country transportation
  • Trainer or speaker expenses
  • Reasonable equipment and materials
  • Meals or refreshments that are integral to the overall project goals
  • Communications and publicity materials such as manuals or project advertisements

AEIF funds cannot be used to pay for: (This list is not exhaustive.)

  • Airfare to or from the United States
  • Sustained staff salaries, office space, and overhead/operational expenses
  • Large items of durable equipment
  • Excessive meals, refreshments, or entertainment
  • Academic research
  • Provision of direct social services to a population (e.g. Funding cannot be used to buy books to give to a community. However, funding can be used to purchase books that will be used in a training.)
  • Support or opposition of partisan political activity

Detailed Budget

All items in your detailed budget that are valued at $200 or more must be itemized. Unit cost breakdowns should be provided wherever possible. For example:

  • Correct: $50/person travel from X to Y * 10 people = $500 for travel expenses
  • Incorrect: travel expenses for $500.

Items of related costs should not be lumped together. For example, travel, accommodations and per diem for a speaker should be three separate line items.

View last year's winning projects to get ideas.

More Resources

AEIF 2013 Winners