Community Engagement Exchange (CEE) Program in the United States of America Fully Funded



The Community Engagement Exchange Program is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State with funding provided by the U.S. Government and supported in its implementation by IREX.

CEE equips dedicated visionaries with the expertise, skills, and resources to develop multisector approaches and build healthy and engaged communities in over 100 countries.

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A transformational leadership development experience, the Community Engagement Exchange Program is a year-long program designed to enable civil society leaders, ages 21-28, 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.

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  • Prepare the next generation of decision makers, thought leaders, and community activists, empowering participants to assume greater leadership roles in their institutions and communities and creating a pipeline of global leaders.
  • Build capacity for civil society leaders and civil society organizations by equipping participants with the knowledge, skills, experiences, and democratic principles necessary to be informed and active members of their communities.
  • Strengthen participants’ ability to lead collaboratively and ethically, while addressing issues of public concern.
  • Develop a global network of diverse, multi-disciplinary civil society and community leaders that contribute to a global civil society eco-system and work together to develop multifaceted and innovative approaches to healthy and resilient communities. 
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Program Activities

  • Three-month U.S.-based practicum: CEE fellows are matched with nonprofit organizations, private entities, and government offices across the United States where they work with U.S. colleagues on initiatives related to civil society issues they face in their own communities.
  • Leadership and Civic Engagement Academy: Through the Academy’s blended learning components, fellows will develop and practice leadership skills that are essential for building their individual and collective abilities to lead and address societal challenges.
  • Community Engagement Project (CEP): The culmination of the fellows’ program is their actionable project in their home country focused on one of the five CEE themes. Alumni also have the opportunity to apply for a CEP exchange with a practicum host or CEE Specialist that will enable them to travel to their home country to further scale their CEP.
  • Continuing Global and Local Networking:  CEE is a network of emerging civil society leaders that will continue to grow through Innovation Hubs that engage knowledge sharing and collaboration with a variety of stakeholders.

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Program Themes

Each fellow focuses on one of five themes throughout the program:

  • Civic dialogue and peacebuilding: Fellows explore models and strategies that support public discourse, civic membership, deliberative participation, and collaboration across diverse communities.
  • Open and participatory government: Fellows explore civic education, civic engagement, deliberative participation, open and transparent systems, community organizing and advocacy, civil liberties and human rights, participatory democracy, good governance, anticorruption efforts, ethics, accountability, press freedom, and fair elections.
  • Resilience and sustainable development: Fellows focus on how to engage communities to address climate change, water and resource management, food access and security, health, sustainable community-based agriculture, and social entrepreneurship for environmental issues.
  • Women and gender: Fellows explore innovative and inclusive models for ensuring that women and individuals marginalized because of their gender are supported, empowered, and included in all aspects of public life.
  • Youth engagement: Fellows focus on empowering youth voices, building multigenerational connections, and providing community engagement and volunteer opportunities that help prepare the next generation of active, informed citizens.

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Amy Fisher Bruey

Project DirectorAmericas, Middle East & North Africa, Civil Society, Leadership, Education, Youth

In this role, Amy works closely with the U.S. Department of State to embed emerging civil society changemakers in a network of leaders from over 100 countries around the world. The CEE program curriculum strengthens civil society through fellows’ leadership development and growth of a global network of leaders striving to meet the challenges of our time.

With more than 15 years of management experience in educational and professional leadership programs, Amy builds strong teams of staff and partners to provide meaningful program experiences. Before joining IREX in September 2020, Amy was the project director of the Global Undergraduate Exchange Program and Capacity Building Program for U.S. Study Abroad at World Learning. Previously, she oversaw exchanges for the Western Hemisphere Fulbright Programs at the U.S. Department of State.

Prior to her work in government supported leadership programing, Amy supported international education and exchanges through her work at ISEP and as an international student advisor at the George Washington University. She has also taught English as a Second Language in Chile and Washington, DC. Amy holds a masters in international education from George Washington University and a bachelors in Spanish and international studies from John Carroll University.

Nina Oduro

Senior Advisor for Youth and LeadershipAfrica, Americas, Ghana, Kenya, Uganda, Education, Gender Equality & Inclusion, Leadership, Technology, Youth

Nina Oduro is the senior advisor for youth and leadership at IREX. She works across the organization’s portfolio of global programs to catalyze the potential of youth and enhance the capacity of leaders to drive positive change.

Nina brings experience in youth and leadership development, research, and training to her role leading strategy, technical capacity building, and external outreach on IREX’s youth and leadership investments.

Previously IREX’s technical advisor for leadership, youth, and training, Nina supported leadership programs and the Center for Applied Learning and Impact’s initiatives on research, learning, and innovation. Prior to joining IREX, Nina began her career in youth leadership development and training at Columbia University and the Posse Foundation, where she trained young leaders to succeed socially and academically. She has worked as an education advising specialist at the U.S. Embassy in Ghana, and consulted for several global education initiatives, including Microsoft’s Education Ambassador Program. Her research work includes leading the International Organization for Migration and Nigerian Government’s Diaspora Mapping Project.

Nina has been recognized as a Top 30 Under 30 honoree by Future of Ghana and DAWNer of the Year by the Diaspora African Women’s Network. She is a champion for diversity and inclusion. Her work leveraging creative entrepreneurship for equity in the food and beverage industry has been featured on Voice of America, NPR, Washington City Paper, and more.

Nina received a MA in African-American studies with a concentration in African diaspora studies from Columbia University and a BA in political and social thought from the University of Virginia.

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For more information, email [email protected].

The Community Engagement Exchange Program is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State with funding provided by the U.S. Government and supported in its implementation by IREX.

Opportunities to participate

Become a fellow: The CEE Program application is now open! Apply by January 14, 2022, at 11:59 pm EST.

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About the Community Engagement Exchange Program application information

The application for the next cycle of the Community Engagement Exchange (CEE) Program is now open! Learn more about CEE and apply below before Friday, January 14, 2022, at 11:59 pm EST.

A group of young people raising their hands

The CEE Program is a dynamic global network of innovators working with communities to address critical 21st Century issues. CEE equips dedicated visionaries with the expertise, skills, and resources to develop multisector approaches and build healthy and engaged communities in over 100 countries. 

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A transformational leadership development experience, CEE is a year-long program designed to enable civil society leaders, ages 21-28, 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. 

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Fellowship components include:

  • Three-month Practicum in the United States: IREX matches CEE fellows to civil society organizations throughout the United States. Designated supervisors and peers support the fellows through a three-month, hands-on professional practicum.
  • Leadership and Civic Engagement Academy: CEE Fellows explore the program themes through interactive curriculum that includes service learning, face-to-face trainings, mentorship, professional coaching, and inclusion in a global network.
  • Community Engagement Project (CEP): With the help of their U.S. host organization and mentors, CEE fellows design and plan a community engagement project to carry out after they return home. Once the fellows depart the U.S., they put these projects into action in their home communities.
  • Community Engagement Project (CEP) Exchange: Select U.S. hosts and CEE Specialists will travel to a CEE Alumnus’ country and work collaboratively to support the fellow’s project implementation and bring back what they learn to strengthen communities across the United States or their home country. 

Application Information

The CEE Fellow application will be open from Monday, November 15 through Friday, January 14 at 11:59 pm EST. 

If you have any questions about the application, please reference the CEE Program Frequently Asked Questions document (PDF, 294 KB) or email [email protected]

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.

  • You are between the ages of 21-28 at the time of application
  • You are a citizen of one of the eligible countries listed below
  • You have a minimum of two years of professional or volunteer experience at the time of application
  • You are living and working in your home country
    • 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
  • You are committed to returning to your home country to complete a 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 by the time of application
  • You are committed to returning to your home country for a minimum of two years after completing the program and
  • You are not a current IREX employee or consultant, or their immediate family member

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Financial Support

The program covers the cost of most expenses associated with:

  • J-1 visa support
  • Round-trip travel from participants’ home city to the U.S.
  • Monthly allowance to cover housing, meals, and other living expenses while in the U.S. and
  • Accident and sickness insurance

Eligible countries by region

Africa: Angola, Botswana, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

East Asia and the Pacific: Brunei, Burma, Cambodia, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Mongolia, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Republic of the Marshall Islands, Singapore, Thailand, Timor-Leste, and Vietnam.

Europe and Eurasia: Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia, Herzegovina, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Georgia, Hungary, Kosovo, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Turkey, and Ukraine.

Middle East and North Africa: Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Syria, Tunisia, and West Bank/Palestinian Territories

South and Central Asia: Bangladesh, Bhutan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.

Western Hemisphere: Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru, Trinidad and Tobago, and Uruguay.

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