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2021 Community Engagement Exchange Program
December 27, 2020


The Community Engagement Exchange Program is a transformational year-long leadership development program designed to enable civil society leaders, ages 20-27 from communities in over 100 countries 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, resilience and sustainable development, and youth engagement.

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.

Applications for the 2021 Community Engagement Exchange Program will be accepted between Monday, November 16 and Friday, December 31, 2020. Applications must be submitted online at https://cee.irex.org/ by Wednesday, December 31, 2020 at 11:59 p.m. (GMT, Almaty time) to be eligible for the program.

Applications that are mailed, faxed or emailed to IREX will not be accepted. Please direct any questions after reading this document to Apply.CEE@irex.org.


  • Empower participants to assume greater leadership roles
  • Build civil society capacity
  • Strengthen participants’ ability to lead collaboratively
  • Develop a global civil society eco-system


  • Fully -funded, three-month practicum at a civil society organization in the U.S.
  • Online and face-to-face training in leadership and community engagement
  • Service Learning opportunities
  • Mentorship
  • Developmental support of Fellows’ projects in their home countries


  • Questions that are marked with a red asterisk must be answered. If a required question does not apply to you, enter N/A (not applicable).
  • Do not translate the spelling of names or addresses into English. Please use only the English alphabet. Do not use accent marks and do not translate your name. For example: José would be Jose; Проспект Мира would be Prospekt Mira.
  • Applications that are not completed in English will be disqualified.
  • Applications must be completed solely by the applicant. Individuals requiring assistance because of a disability should provide this information in the application.
  • Individuals may only submit one application. If an applicant submits two applications using different email addresses, then the individual will be disqualified.
  • Applications must be submitted by December 31, 2020 at 11:59 p.m. (GMT, Almaty time) to be considered.


Competition for the CEE Program is merit-based and open to emerging civil society and community leaders who meet the criteria below. Applications that do not meet these eligibility requirements will be disqualified and will not be reviewed by the selection committee. Please note that the U.S. Department of State and IREX reserve the right to verify all the information included in an individual’s application. If there is a discrepancy, or information is found to be false, the applicant will immediately be disqualified.

  • You are between the ages of 20 and 27 as of November 1, 2020
  • You are a citizen of Kazakhstan
  • You are living and working in Kazakhstan at the time of application
    • Individuals with refugee status working on behalf of their home community may be given special consideration
  • You are working on a community engagement initiative in Kazakhstan, either in a professional or volunteer capacity, with a vision to pursue a career working to support civil society
  • You have a high level of proficiency in spoken and written English at the time of application
    • Semifinalists will be required to take or submit recent scores for a TOEFL or IELTS English language test
  • You are available to travel to the U.S. for three months from October 2021 to January 2022
  • You are committed to returning to Kazakhstan to complete a community-based project or CEE “Community Engagement Project (CEP)”
  • You are not a citizen or permanent resident of the U.S. and have not applied for U.S. permanent residency within the past three years
  • You are eligible to receive a U.S. J-1 visa
    • Applicants who have participated in an exchange program sponsored by the U.S. Government must have fulfilled their two-year home residency requirement before applying for CEE
  • You are committed to returning to Kazakhstan for a minimum of two years after completing the program, and
  • You are not a current employee of or consultant for the U.S. Department of State or IREX or an immediate family member


Competition for the Community Engagement Exchange Program is merit-based. After the deadline, all eligible applications will be reviewed and scored by a selection committee. Applicants receiving top scores will be chosen as semifinalists and asked to complete an interview. Semifinalists will also be required to take an English language exam or submit recent TOEFL or IELTS scores. Finalists and alternates will be selected, pending their performance on their interviewers and English language exam.


  • November 16, 2020 Application opens
  • December 23, 2020 Application deadline
  • January 2021 Applications reviewed by selection committee
  • February 2021 Semifinalists notified of status. Complete virtual interviews
  • February – March 2021 Semifinalists interviews reviewed and scored by selection committee
  • March 2021 Finalists and alternates selected
  • March 2021 Finalists and alternates take English language exam (TOEFL or equivalent)
  • April 2021 Semifinalists notified if selected as a finalist or alternate. Finalists will be asked to submit additional materials
  • August 2021 Pre-Departure Orientation for Fellows (virtual)
  • October 2021 Travel to U.S. Orientation in Detroit, Michigan
  • October 2021 – January 2022 Professional practicum at U.S. host organization
  • January 2022 End of Program Workshop in Washington, DC
  • January 2022 Travel home to implement Community Engagement Projects (CEP)
  • April 2022 Community Engagement Project Check-in
  • June-August 2022 U.S. hosts and Global Leaders travel to CEE Fellows’ home countries
  • September 2022 Innovation Hub and Alumni Network Events