Virtual Exchange Grant Competition

Stevens Initiative

Relevent Country: United States of America

The J. Christopher Stevens Virtual Exchange Initiative (“Stevens Initiative”) invites qualified nonprofit organizations and educational institutions to submit proposals to its 2022 grant competition, supported by the U.S. Department of State, which supports grants to conduct virtual exchange programs that connect young people in the United States (U.S.) and the Middle East and North Africa (MENA).

Applicants may propose programs that reach young people from the elementary (primary) school age through post-graduate/young adult.

The Stevens Initiative is offering two types of grants – scaling and seeding –with different parameters to meet a range of needs in the virtual exchange field.


  • Technology and computing
  • Engaging with local and global challenges
  • Business and entrepreneurship
  • Language learning and practice

Funding Information

  • The Initiative will award up to $7 million through the competition. Individual award sizes will vary, and the Initiative will award seeding and scaling grants in addition to providing an additional funding opportunity for robust alumni engagement.
  • Scaling grants support organizations to grow and improve established virtual exchange programs. Grants will range from $350,000 to $900,000.
  • Seeding grants are intended to support early-stage programs that fill a gap in the virtual exchange field. Grants will range from $100,000 to $300,000.
  • While the Stevens Initiative does not have a set number of grants it will award, the Initiative anticipates a competitive applicant pool resulting in approximately 12 grants awarded, with approximately six seeding and six scaling. Awards are cost reimbursable.

Grant Duration: The period of performance of the grants will be 27 months, beginning April 1, 2023, and ending June 30, 2025.

Eligibility Criteria

  • Applying organizations must be based in the United States or in the Middle East and North Africa.
  • Applicants based in the U.S. must be tax-exempt nonprofit organizations, including educational institutions. Other organizations are not eligible to apply, though they may be included as sub-awardees or contract recipients. U.S. applicants in the process of registration must submit proof that they are seeking nonprofit status from the Internal Revenue Service at the time of submission. Should the applicant be selected for a grant, funding will be contingent on the organization receiving tax exempt status. Grant recipients must be registered to conduct proposed activities in the countries where the activities would take place, if applicable.
  • Applicants based in the MENA region must be nonprofit organizations, including educational institutions that can demonstrate current in-country registration. Other organizations are not eligible to apply, though they may be included as sub-awardees or contract recipients. Staff should be proficient in English, and able to file reports and conduct evaluations in English as well as in Arabic or French as appropriate.
  • Fiscally-sponsored organizations are eligible for funding; the application should be submitted by the fiscal sponsor and should make clear the arrangement between the fiscal sponsor and those carrying out the work.
  • Past recipients of Stevens Initiative grants are eligible to submit applications.
  • Current recipients of U.S. Government funds are eligible to submit applications. These applications must be for programs that are different from currently U.S. Government-funded activities and do not involve any overlap in staff, curriculum, participants, etc.
  • An organization can request no more than 80% of the amount of their Fiscal Year 2021 operating budget.
  • Organizations may submit more than one application if the proposed programs are distinct and do not involve any overlap in staff, curriculum, participants, deliverables, etc.
  • Activities must be conducted in the United States and in one or more of the following countries: Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Oman, the Palestinian Territories, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen.
  • Participants may not be asked to pay in order to participate in Stevens Initiative-funded activities.
  • In-person exchange for young people, educators, facilitators, or program organizers may be included to complement the virtual exchange activities. Travel to the U.S. for youth or adult participants from the MENA region must occur through the J-1 visa program. Strong preference for travel will be given to candidates that have never traveled to the U.S. before (for participants from the MENA region) or have never traveled to the host country in the MENA region (for U.S. participants). The Stevens Initiative strongly prefers to prioritize travel opportunities for youth or adults who have not previously studied abroad or participated in previous U.S. Government-sponsored exchange programs.  No participant under the age of 15 is eligible to travel. In-person travel conducted during the period of performance of the award is not guaranteed and must be approved in advance by the Stevens Initiative and U.S. Department of State. Applicants are strongly encouraged to consider back-up plans or alternatives to in-person travel when putting together a proposal. Additional guidelines may apply and will be discussed in detail with grantees during grantee orientation.
  • Organizations are encouraged to collaborate to develop a proposed program. The full application should be submitted by one organization and may list partners as sub-awardees or contractors. The lead applicant should be the organization that will conduct the largest portion of the proposed work, including grant management and administration.
  • Organizations that receive a grant may be asked to work with the Stevens Initiative to incorporate new implementing partners (such as educational institutions and community organizations) into their programs as appropriate.
  • Applicants are reminded that U.S. Executive Orders and U.S. law prohibits transactions with, and the provision of resources and support to, individuals and organizations associated with terrorism. It is the legal responsibility of the grant recipient to ensure compliance with these Executive Orders and laws. This provision must be included in any subawards issued under this grant.
  • The Stevens Initiative advises applicants to consult with their intended partners about the time and steps that may be required to receive any necessary approvals to conduct the activities if the proposal is funded. This may include government/ministry approvals, administrative approvals, legal approvals, and more.
  • The second year of funding will be contingent on the successful conduct of the first year.