Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative (YLAI) Program

  • U.S. flag
  • Seal of the U.S. Department of State
  • Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative logo

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

YLAI is seeking organizations as Cohort Ambassadors to serve as local partners for facilitating a cohesive cohort and fostering cross-cultural understanding through local cultural and professional engagements during the 2025 YLAI Fellowship Program. Applications are open April 30 - May 31. More information available April 30th.

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 1,750 YLAI Fellows have expanded their leadership and entrepreneurial experience. Over 280 fellows will participate in the 2025 YLAI Fellowship, taking place online and across 19 U.S. cities.

Graphic that reads: Strengthened confidence and global impact: 89% of Fellows have expressed an increase in confidence in being able to make a difference globally and in their local communities. Cross-cultural connections: 87% of Fellows reported increased cross-cultural connections of both a personal and professional nature, creating and maintaining networks extending beyond the program's conclusion.


  • 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.
The YLAI Fellowship Program has been truly transformative for me and my business. 2023 YLAI Fellow, Ana Raquel Calháu, Brazil

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 and develop their skills through a four-week U.S.-based fellowship with U.S. business leaders and additional professional development opportunities during and after the fellowship. 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.
  • Outbound exchange: After the YLAI Fellowship, U.S. businesses have the opportunity to travel to the YLAI Alum's home country to continue to build upon emerging business partnerships and professional connections made during the YLAI Fellowship and cultivate new professional partnerships with Alumni to broaden markets and networks, enhancing U.S. relations with Western Hemisphere nations.
  • Opportunities for alumni: Alumni continue to build the skills and connections developed during their time in the United States through access to ongoing professional development, networking, and collaboration opportunities with support from the U.S. Department of State and affiliated partners.


partner logos




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.