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Community Engagement Exchange Program
December 8, 2020

Are you a passionate young changemaker who is hungry for a transformational leadership development experience?

A civil society leader who is interested in building networks in the U.S. and around the world?

If so, read on …

The Community Engagement Exchange (CEE) is a new, year-long civil society program sponsored by the U.S. Department of State and funded by the U.S. Government!  It is designed to enable civil society leaders, ages 20-27 (as of November 1, 2020), to harness the power of networks, relationships, and information for the public good, specifically on issues related to civic dialog and peace-building, open and participatory government, women and gender, resilience and sustainable development, and youth engagement.  CEE will connect a dynamic global network of innovators working with communities to address critical 21st Century issues and equip dedicated visionaries with the expertise, skills, and resources to develop multisector approaches and build healthy and engaged communities in over 100 countries.  Ideally, this first cohort of CEE fellows will help lay a strong foundation for robust network of emerging civil society leaders creating positive change around the world.

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

CEE is now accepting applications until December 23, 2020.

For more details, visit:  https://www.irex.org/project/community-engagement-exchange.

Questions?  Email:  Apply.Cee@IREX.org.

CEE Program Timeline:


  • December 23, 2020 – CEE application deadline
  • February 2021 – CEE semifinalists notified of status and complete virtual interviews.
  • March 2021 – IREX identifies finalists and alternates, who then take an English language exam (TOEFL or equivalent)
  • April 2021 – Semifinalists notified if selected as a finalist or alternate and asked to submit additional materials
  • August 2021 – Pre-Departure Orientation for Fellows (virtual)
  • October 2021 – Travel to U.S. Orientation in Detroit, Michigan
  • October 2021 – January 2022 – Professional fellowship at U.S. host organization
  • January 2022 – End of Program Workshop in Washington, DC
  • January 2022
    • CEE Participants travel home to implement Community Engagement Projects (CEP)
    • Debriefs with CEE Program fellows upon their return home
  • April 2022 – IREX leads Community Engagement Project Check-in
  • June – August 2022 – U.S. hosts and Global Leaders travel to CEE Fellows’ home countries
  • September 2022 – Innovation Hub Network Events

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)s:


When are CEE Fellow applications due?

CEE Fellow Applications are due December 23rd, 2020 at 11:59pm Eastern Time.

I do not fall within the 20-27 age range requirement that the CEE Program has determined in the eligibility requirements. Am I able to apply?

Unfortunately, not at this time.

Given the program design around emerging civil society leaders, the CEE Program requires that all participants be between the ages of 20-27 (as of November 1, 2020). Should you have significant background and expertise in civil society and fall outside of this age range, we invite you to reach out to the CEE team to learn about ways to partner with CEE in the future.

I am a University student, am I eligible to apply?


Since the CEE Program does not have a formal education requirement, applicants who are currently attending a University are eligible to apply. However, it is important to note that applicants must meet all other eligibility requirements, including age, English proficiency, and the ability to participate on a three-month practicum hosted at a U.S. civil society organization October 2020- January 2021. Given these program components, there is a preference for candidates that have at least a bachelor’s degree or equivalent. The assumption is that a bachelor’s degree gives candidates a stronger foundation for the Program and will more easily receive Fellowship offers from U.S. civil society organizations.

Am I required to have professional experience or to be currently employed to apply for the CEE?


Professional Experience or current employment is not a requirement of the CEE Program. However, it is required that candidates have 2 to 3 years of experience in the civil society sector, either professional or volunteer. Yes, participation in a University led initiative/internship can count!

My country is not listed on the list of eligible countries. Am I still able to apply?

Unfortunately, not at this time. Only applicants from the list of eligible countries will be considered for the CEE Program.

I have not taken the TOEFL or IELTS English Proficiency exam before the October 23, 2020 deadline. Am I eligible to apply?


TOEFL scores are not required at the time of application. For ultimate participation in the Program, CEE will provide resources for selected applicants to take the TOEFL exam.  Required scores: TOEFL 520 (190 computer-based test/ 68 internet-based) or IELTS 6.0

If I participate in the CEE Program, am I required to return to my home country for two years after the completion of the program?

J-1 visa regulation mandates that applicants who have participated in an exchange program sponsored by the U.S. Government must fulfill a two-year home residency after the program has completed. Therefore, CEE Program finalists will be required to return to their home country for 2 years after the completion of the program.

If you have previously participated on a U.S. government sponsored exchange program in the past, you must have fulfilled the two-year home residency requirement by October 1, 2021 to be eligible to apply for the CEE Program.

I have started my application and have reached the essay section. Should I complete all 7 essays?

There is a 450-word limit on each essay. Be sure to answer each question thoroughly to represent yourself to the best of your ability. These essays will be an essential part of the CEE Participant Selection Committee’s review of your application. The Committee is committed to reviewing all components of the application to ensure a holistic review of your candidacy.

For additional questions, please do not hesitate to contact the CEE team at: Apply.Cee@IREX.org.