The Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study (YES) program was established by Congress in October, 2002 in response to the events of September 11, 2001. The program is funded through the U.S. Department of State and sponsored by the Bureau of Educational & Cultural Affairs (ECA) to provide scholarships for high school students from countries with significant Muslim populations to spend up to one academic year in the U.S. Students live with host families, attend high school, engage in activities to learn about American society and values, acquire leadership skills, and help educate Americans about their countries and cultures. Starting in 2009, the YES Abroad program was established to provide a similar experience for U.S. students (15-18 years) to spend an academic year in select YES countries.
The first class of YES students arrived from Egypt, Gaza, Indonesia, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Malaysia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Syria, Tunisia, Turkey, West Bank, and Yemen. The program has continued to expand to accept students from the following countries for the 2013-14 academic year:
Albania | Bahrain | Bangladesh | Bosnia and Herzegovina | Bulgaria | Cameroon | Egypt | Gaza | Ghana | India | Indonesia | Israel (Arab Communities) | Jordan | Kenya | Kosovo | Kuwait | Lebanon | Liberia | Malaysia | Mali | Morocco | Mozambique | Nigeria | Pakistan | Philippines | Qatar | Saudi Arabia | Senegal | Sierra Leone | South Africa | Suriname | Tanzania, Thailand | Tunisia | Turkey | West Bank | Yemen.
The YES program is administered in partnership with the U.S. Department of State by a consortium of non-profit organizations led by American Councils for International Education and includes the following placement and recruitment organizations.
Family members of affiliated private sector employees: Family members of employees of ECA-funded implementers of grant programs and Department contractors whose official duties involve a particular ECA-funded youth exchange program are technically ineligible for that program. Family members include spouse and dependent children.
ACES, AFS-USA, AIFS/AYA, American Councils, ASSE, AYUSA International, CCI, CIEE, FLAG, IRIS, NW Services PEACE Program, PAX, STS Foundation, World Learning, World Link, and YFU each host a portion of the Kennedy-Lugar YES students in communities across the United States.