Community Engagement Exchange

  • U.S. flag.
  • Seal of the U.S. Department of State.
  • Community Engagement Exchange Program logo.

Community Engagement Exchange


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.

A transformational leadership development experience, the Community Engagement Exchange Program is a year-long program designed to enable civil society leaders, ages 21-27, 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, environmental sustainability, and youth engagement.

Opportunities to participate

  • Become a Fellow: The application for the 2025 CEE Program is live! Apply by July 2, 2024.
  • Partner with us: We are seeking civil society partners in the United States to host CEE Fellows!


  • 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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Quick Facts

  • In its first three cycles, the Community Engagement Exchange Program has received over 14,000 applications from 104 countries. The CEE network includes over 200 alumni and 127 fellows in 2024.
  • CEE fellows are emerging young leaders and activists at the beginning of their careers who are energized to address issues of public concern and improve the quality of community. Fellows are selected through an open, merit-based, competitive application process that takes place annually. For a complete list of CEE’s eligibility criteria, including eligible countries, please visit our application page.
  • Fellows are supported in their fellowship by a select group of seasoned civil society experts, known as CEE Mentors, who support fellows’ integration into the larger global civil society ecosystem by mentoring CEE fellows and sharing their technical expertise.
  • 98% of CEE Fellows report an increase in their personal and professional skills as a result of their program participation.
  • 97% of CEE Fellows report increasing their network in the United States.
  • 92% of CEE Fellows feel they have more confidence in their ability to have an impact in their home country.
  • 96% of CEE Fellows volunteered in their host communities, accumulating over 2,680 hours of community service.


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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.

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.
  • Environmental sustainability: 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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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.