The J. Christopher Stevens Virtual Exchange Initiative Awards $3.61 Million to Support 11 Virtual Exchanges Connecting Young People in the United States, Middle East, and North Africa

Nearly 10,000 young people will gain international experiences through learning and collaboration with peers abroad without leaving their home communities.


Maura Daley
Stevens Initiative

Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs
U.S. Department of State

Washington, D.C., May 14, 2024 – Today, the Stevens Initiative announced its support for 11 virtual exchange programs to give nearly 10,000 young people in the United States and the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) access to meaningful, cross-cultural experiences that will enhance their understanding of the world around them.

“We are honored to welcome 11 new grantees today. Together, we are embarking on a journey of discovery and continued growth in the virtual exchange field. This marks a major milestone towards our vision of a world where virtual exchange is part of every young person’s life,” said Christine Shiau, Executive Director of the Stevens Initiative. “Each grantee embodies the spirit of innovation and collaboration necessary to help young people unlock their creativity, foster critical thinking skills, form friendships, and feel connected to the world. Their dedication to lifelong learning will help us create opportunities that transcend boundaries, inspiring a brighter, more interconnected future for all.” 

The 2024 J. Christopher Stevens Virtual Exchange Initiative grantees collectively represent a diverse set of virtual exchange programming that will use everyday technology — such as virtual reality, video conferencing, and digital conversation spaces — to explore topics including artificial intelligence, STEM, climate action, entrepreneurship, and language learning. Young people who participate will gain exposure to cross-cultural settings, take on new perspectives, work collaboratively on projects and in dialogue, and build digital literacy skills — which will equip them with the tools they need to succeed in an evolving and interconnected world. 

“My brother dedicated his career to bridging divides between the U.S. and the Middle East and North Africa. I am deeply inspired by the dedication of these grantees and the young people they reach as they carry forward the vision of a more interconnected and compassionate world. They will continue Chris’ legacy of fostering global understanding, recognizing that virtual exchange is a powerful tool for meaningful dialogue and cross-cultural connection.” said Dr. Anne Stevens, Sister of Ambassador Christopher Stevens. The Stevens Initiative, conceived and developed in close partnership with Ambassador Stevens’ family, seeks to give a generation of young people the kind of meaningful international experiences that shaped Ambassador Stevens as a young man.

The 2024 J. Christopher Stevens Virtual Exchange Initiative Grantees, which will reach young people in all U.S. states and territories and 11 MENA countries and territories, include: 

 The J. Christopher Stevens Virtual Exchange Initiative is a U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs program administered by the Aspen Institute.

More Information

The Stevens Initiative is an international leader in virtual exchange, which brings young people from diverse places together to collaborate and connect through everyday technology. Created in 2015 as a lasting tribute to Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, the Initiative invests in virtual exchange programs; shares research, resources, and promising practices to improve impact; and advocates for broader adoption. Learn more:

The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA)builds relations between the people of the United States and the people of other countries through academic, cultural, sports, professional and private exchanges, as well as public-private partnerships and mentoring programs. These exchange programs improve foreign relations and strengthen the national security of the United States, support U.S. international leadership, and provide a broad range of domestic benefits by helping break down barriers that often divide us. Visit

The Aspen Institute is a global nonprofit organization committed to realizing a free, just, and equitable society. Founded in 1949, the Institute drives change through dialogue, leadership, and action to help solve the most important challenges facing the United States and the world.  Headquartered in Washington, DC, the Institute has a campus in Aspen, Colorado, and an international network of partners. For more information, visit


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