Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative (YLAI) Program

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Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative (YLAI) Program


The Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative (YLAI) is the U.S. Department of State’s flagship program for emerging entrepreneurs and business leaders from Latin America, the Caribbean, and Canada.

Designed to promote mutual understanding and build a network of young business and social entrepreneurs, the program brings young leaders to the U.S. for entrepreneurial leadership training and fellowships with U.S. companies and social enterprises. 

The YLAI 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.

YLAI Opportunities

Partner with the YLAI Fellowship Program

Interested in creating international business ties by joining an active and diverse network of over 1,200 current and former YLAI Fellows across the Americas and over 800 U.S.-based partners? YLAI is seeking partners across the United States. 

Learn More 

Quick Facts

  • Fellows are emerging business or social entrepreneurs between the ages of 25 and 35 who have a demonstrated track record of at least two years of experience with either small and medium sized businesses or social ventures.   
  • The fellowship provides these emerging young leaders with the opportunity to develop their skills by placing them with a U.S. business and additional professional development opportunities during and after the fellowship ends.
  • Since the initiative’s launch in 2015, more than 750 YLAI Fellows have expanded their leadership and entrepreneurial experience. Over 250 fellows will participate in a virtual 2021 YLAI Fellowship.


  • Invest in a new generation of young entrepreneurial leaders in the Americas who are shaping the region’s future.
  • Strengthen economic and social development across the Americas through deepening business relationships and connections with the United States.
  • Create a sustainable network of business and social entrepreneurial leaders who foster mutual understanding and increase business ties between the United States and the Americas.

Project Activities

  • Customized curriculum: once accepted into the program, YLAI Fellows begin a journey toward greater entrepreneurial leadership with a customized curriculum designed for them.
  • U.S. fellowship: Fellows sharpen their entrepreneurial leadership through a six-week U.S.-based fellowship with U.S. business leaders. Fellows develop an action plan to enhance their own ventures once they return home.
  • Closing forum in Washington, DC: At the conclusion of the fellowship, YLAI Fellows participate in a closing forum to bridge their U.S. fellowship experience with their return home and cement their new skills into action over the next nine months.


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The YLAI 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.