Deadline: May 20, 2016 | Apply here
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: Fully funded
Duration: 5 weeks
Location: USA

The Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative (YLAI) Fellowship Program

President Obama’s Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative (YLAI) empowers entrepreneurs and innovative civil society leaders to strengthen their capacity to launch and advance their entrepreneurial ideas and effectively contribute to social and economic development in their communities.

In fall 2016, 250 YLAI Professional Fellows from Latin America and the Caribbean will expand their leadership and entrepreneurial experience through fellowships at businesses and civil society organizations across the U.S.

Through the YLAI Entrepreneurship Institute and the individualized Entrepreneur Mentorships, YLAI Fellows will accelerate their commercial and social ventures’ success and develop specific action plans to carry out upon return to their home countries.

Fellows will build networks, linkages and lasting partnerships to attract investments and support for their entrepreneurial ventures.

The program participants will receive five weeks of mentorship, experience, and training through the program, which will feature individualized fellowships at businesses and civil society organizations across the United States. YLAI Professional Fellows will attend a summit in Washington, D.C. to facilitate their mentoring, networking and investment opportunities.

YLAI 2016 Professional Fellows will participate in:

  • Four-week Fellowship: With U.S. mentors in their field of expertise, YLAI Professional Fellows gain valuable professional development skills at entrepreneurial organizations or companies across the U.S. and work jointly on a venture Action Plan to be implemented upon Fellows’ return to their home countries.
  • Washington, D.C., Summit: YLAI Professional Fellows participate in a three-day conference and networking event with top U.S. government officials as well as global public, private and nonprofit leaders.
  • YLAI Entrepreneurship Institute: YLAI Professional Fellows expand their leadership, entrepreneurial and management skills and knowledge through online and in-person trainings that complement their U.S. Fellowship.
  • Sustained Engagement Post Fellowship: After successful completion of the U.S. Fellowship and YLAI Entrepreneurship Institute, YLAI Professional Fellows continue their collaboration with U.S. partners and have access to ongoing professional development opportunities, mentorships, networking and alumni activities. YLAI Professional Fellows will be eligible for Innovation Small Grants to fund startup or scaling activities, Travel Grants to conferences, and a chance to Host a U.S. Mentor to share expertise and expand mentors’ understanding of the entrepreneurship climate in YLAI Professional Fellows’ home countries.


There is no fee to apply to become a YLAI Professional Fellow. All program expenses are covered by the U.S. government.

  • J-1 visa support.
  • Round-trip travel from participant’s home city to the United States and all required program travel.
  • YLAI Entrepreneurship Institute training and courses.
  • Program opening in Dallas and summit in Washington, D.C.
  • Four-week professional development experience.
  • Accident and sickness medical coverage.
  • Housing and meals throughout the program.

Eligibility criteria

Candidates will be considered without respect to race, color, religion, sex, gender, sexuality, national origin, disability or any other protected characteristic as established by U.S. law.

Applicants with disabilities are eligible and encouraged to apply for the YLAI Professional Fellows Program. The YLAI Professional Fellows Program is open to young entrepreneurs who:

  • Are between the ages of 21 and 35 on the start date of the Fellowhip Program.
  • Are a resident and citizen of one of the participating countries: Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Curacao, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Uruguay, Venezuela.
  • Are eligible to receive a U.S. J-1 visa.
  • Have at least two (2) years of entrepreneurial/leadership experience, preferably with a startup business or social venture.
  • Are not a U.S. citizen or permanent resident of the United States.
  • Are not U.S. government employees.
  • Are proficient in reading, writing and speaking English.


The purpose of the application is to collect basic information and to better understand applicants’ qualifications for the Professional Fellows Program.

Questions will include candidates’ professional background and experience with their own business or social ventures, volunteer activities and English language proficiency.

The application will request a copy of applicants’ business or organization plans and resumes.

Additionally, the application will include the following short essay questions:

  • What are your goals for this program and how will it help to advance you personally and professionally? How will your participation in the YLAI Professional Fellows Program enhance your ability to contribute to your community, country, region and society?
  • What challenges does your company/organization face? How will your participation in this program help you face those challenges?
  • Please share any previous experience with U.S. organizations. What interests you about the opportunity to work with a U.S. institution?
  • Please describe your entrepreneurial accomplishments.
  • Please describe the business plan that you hope to refine and further develop as a part of this program.

See an example business plan and example resume.

Interested in applying for the ‪#YLAI Professional Fellows Program? Check the FAQs for more info.

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