The Fellowship Program application period opens on January 9, 2017, and closes on February 6, 2017, at 5:00EST.
Launched in 2016, the Young Transatlantic Innovation Leaders Initiative Fellowship is the flagship program of the Young Transatlantic Innovation Leaders Initiative (YTILI) of the U.S. Department of State and is supported in its implementation by the German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF)
YTILI empowers young European entrepreneurs and innovators with the tools, networks, and resources they need to grow their enterprises and contribute more fully to economic development and job creation, security, and good governance in the region. YTILI is also a vehicle for building a transatlantic network of innovators that can contribute to an ongoing policy dialogue that strengthens the transatlantic relationship.
In 2017, the YTILI Fellowship will engage up to 100 young European leaders in a series of professional development and leadership activities that are designed to support the growth and development of commercial and social business ventures in their home communities. The following document provides detailed information on the fellowship program elements, fellowship expectations, selection process, and timeline.
The 2017 YTILI Fellowship year will commence in May 2017 and conclude in May 2018. The cohort of up to 100 fellows will be divided into two groups that will travel separately to the United States for their fellowship experience. The full 2017 YTILI cohort will be connected virtually in pre-departure activities, an online platform, and at the concluding summit. Fellows are expected to fully participate in all aspects of the program outlined below and develop a series of deliverables outlined in the Fellowship Program Overview & Selection Process document.
- Orientation Webinar: All fellows will be required to participate in an orientation webinar to review the expectations of the program, launch the online platform, and begin the process of building a unified YTILI cohort.
- Washington, D.C., Program: Each traveling cohort of fellows will begin their experience in the U.S. with a program in Washington, DC. This orientation program will focus on three elements: (1) building the YTILI cohort and peer learning exchange; (2) networking with top U.S. government officials, as well as, global public, private and nonprofit leaders; (3) connecting fellows with key experts and mentors to enhance their entrepreneurial skills and expertise.
- Two-week Professional Placement: Following the Washington, D.C. program, fellows will be sent to selected U.S. cities with established or emerging entrepreneurial ecosystems for a two-week (10 business day) placement with a host organization. During this two week period, fellows are expected to: (1) participate in activities outlined by the host organization, which will vary by placement, but may include work on specific projects; (2) explore the entrepreneurial ecosystem of the host city to understand the policy context, institutional and financial landscape, and local networks that support innovation; (3) complete a series of individual inquiry and professional development activities designed to build their entrepreneurial core competencies and leadership skills. In each city, GMF will designate a local ambassador who will serve as a resource for the fellows and support GMF in coordinating group activities and required appointments. The professional placement period will conclude with a group meeting to discuss key deliverables outlined in the following section and to discuss the next steps.
- European Summit: In the spring of 2018, YTILI Fellows will convene in Europe for a concluding summit that will include additional professional development, networking, and peer-to-peer learning. Selected US city ambassadors will participate in the meeting along with European experts in entrepreneurship and innovation. The summit will be an opportunity for the fellows’ to discuss their progress, reflect on the fellowship experience, and network across the full cohort of fellows. Additional details on the agenda will be shared throughout the fellowship year.
- Online Platform: As part of the fellowship experience, GMF and the U.S. Department of State will offer an online platform for internal exchange and knowledge sharing. The platform will also provide an opportunity for additional training and skills development that complement the U.S. placement experience.
- Gain professional experience, skills, and connections valuable to enhancing your business or social venture;
- Connect with a dynamic group of experts and mentors in the United States and Europe;
- Expand your professional network and develop relationships with peers and counterparts on both sides of the Atlantic;
- Explore the policy context, financial landscape, and networks of U.S. entrepreneurial ecosystems; and
- Join a growing network of dynamic European entrepreneurs committed to enhancing the transatlantic relationship and contributing to the growth of entrepreneurial ecosystems in their home communities.
Who is eligible to apply?
We are seeking a young, diverse, enthusiastic, and creative group of fellows in startups and innovative, ready-to-scale, or socially-engaged small enterprises. Candidates will be considered without respect to race, color, religion, sex, gender, sexuality, national origin, disability, or any other protected characteristic as established by U.S. law. Applicants with disabilities are eligible and encouraged to apply for the YTILI Fellowship Program. The YTILI Fellowship Program is open to young entrepreneurs who meet the following criteria:
- Are between the ages of 24 and 35 on January 9, 2017.
- Are a citizen of one of the participating countries: Albania, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Kosovo, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malta, Moldova, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom.
- Currently resides in one of the participating countries: Albania, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Kosovo, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malta, Moldova, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom.
- Are eligible to receive a U.S. J-1 visa.
- Have at least two (2) years of entrepreneurial/leadership experience with a startup business or social venture.
- Are not U.S. citizens or permanent residents of the United States.
- Are not a U.S. government employee.
- Are proficient in reading, writing, and speaking English.
Fellowship Requirements & Expectations
If selected as a YTILI fellow, it is expected that individuals will participate in all elements of the program as outlined above and complete the fellowship deliverables as outlined below. Fellowship awards cannot be deferred.
Expectations & Fellowship Deliverables:
- Respond in a timely manner to inquiries and requests from GMF, the U.S. Department of State, and/or identified partners in placements or U.S. host cities;
- Conduct oneself in a professional manner and abide by the GMF code of conduct for professional exchanges, which will be provided to fellows at the time of award;
- Review pre-departure fellowship orientation materials, including the professional placement and U.S. host city entrepreneurial ecosystem, and participate in the orientation webinar;
- Research and identify 4-6 individuals in the placement or U.S. host city entrepreneurial ecosystem that would be most beneficial to advancing the fellow’s goals for the YTILI experience. (Deliverable: List of individuals to be shared during Washington program);
- Complete at least 3 professional appointments or interviews with identified individuals during the placement period. (Deliverable: at least one internal (YTILI-cohort only) blog post to be posted on YTILI online platform summarizing insights or reflections from the professional appointments. Due prior to the fellow’s departure from the U.S.);
- Write at least one blog post on the overall YTILI experience suitable for publication on the YTILI Medium page. All blog posts regardless of publication status will be posted on the YTILI online platform for sharing with the YTILI cohort. (Deliverable: Cohort 1 blog post due to GMF by September 1, 2017; Cohort 2 blog post due to GMF by December 1, 2017);
- Participate in all required appointments during the Washington program, city placement period, and concluding summit;
- Fulfill obligations of the professional placement as outlined by the host;
- Develop a new or refined pitch presentation or video for your venture (Deliverable: drafts due for peer sharing at the conclusion of the placement period; final pitches will be shared at the concluding summit);
- Develop an Action Plan outlining post-fellowship next steps (Deliverable: due for peer sharing at the conclusion of the professional placement); and
- Participate in all fellowship evaluation activities throughout the fellowship year and for up to 18 months following the placement period in the United States.
Financial Provisions of the Fellowship
There is no fee to apply to the YTILI Fellowship. The Fellowship does not cover salary while Fellows are participating in the program. If selected as a YTILI fellow, the U.S. government will cover the following costs:
- J-1 visa support.
- Round-trip air travel from participant’s home city to the United States and all required program travel.*
- All activities in the Washington, DC orientation program, two-week professional placement in a US city, and the European summit.
- Online Platform and related training.
- Housing throughout the program (orientation, two-week placement, summit).*
- Meals and local transportation throughout Washington program orientation and European summit; meals and transportation stipend during two-week professional development experience.*
- Accident and sickness benefit plan.
*parameters on these items are outlined below
The following items are not paid for by the Fellowship program:
- Airport transfers in home countries.
- Additional food and beverages outside of planned meals in the Washington program orientation and European Summit.
- Additional food and beverages outside of the meals and transportation stipend provided during the travel days of the professional placement period; stipend will be based on U.S. government guidelines for meals and incidental expenses by placement city.
- Leisure activities not offered by the program.
- Personal purchases and gifts.
- Please note the following parameters on the transportation, housing, and meals paid for by the program:
- Fellows will be housed in double occupancy hotel rooms, shared houses/dormitories, or similar accommodations. Fellows may be expected to share a bedroom and bathroom with another Fellow of the same gender.
- During the Washington program and European summit, there will be group meals offered at the hotel, catered at meeting locations, or in restaurants. During the two-week professional placement in a US city, participants will receive a stipend to cover meals that are arranged on their own. Participants may have access to a kitchen to cook some meals, depending on availability at host accommodation. Please note that the same types and varieties of foods that applicants may have access to in their home countries may not be available in the U.S. host city. GMF and its partners will make reasonable efforts to accommodate special requirements regarding diet, daily worship, etc.
- All air travel will be booked in coach class on carriers and schedules (arrival and departure dates) determined by GMF based on program requirements. Fellows will receive advance notice of all itineraries prior to booking; however, GMF is unable to accommodate special requests for preferred carrier or routing.
- GMF will provide group airport transfers in the US.
- Public transportation will be the preferred method of daily transportation during professional placements.
Selection Process and Criteria
The YTILI Fellowship selection process is a merit-based open competition. After the deadline, all eligible applications will be reviewed and scored against the evaluation criteria outlined below. Following the initial review, the U.S. Department of State and GMF will select a group of semi-finalists. All semi-finalists will be interviewed by the U.S. embassies or consulates in their home countries, either in-person or by video conference. If advanced to the semi-finalist round, applicants must provide a copy of their international passport (if available) or other government-issued photo identification at the time of the interview.
As part of the YTILI Fellowship application, semi-finalists will be asked to provide standard demographic information, details about their business (if applicable), and their opinions about different aspects of America, including the American business community. These questions are being collected by an independent research office within the U.S. Department of State for research purposes only. Applicants’ answers will not be seen by members of the selection team, nor will they influence decisions. Applicants’ responses are confidential and results will only be reported in the aggregate.
Following the semi-finalist interview, the U.S. Department of State and GMF will make the final selection of the fellows. Notification of status will be sent to all applicants following the initial evaluation and to semi-finalists at the conclusion of the selection process. The chart below outlines the major steps and milestones in the selection process.
The following criteria will be used to evaluate applications (not listed in order of importance)
- Professional Achievement & Leadership Potential: Relative to his/her age, has the applicant accomplished notable professional achievements? Will this applicant likely become a leader, if not already, in his/her community or professional field, and if a leader already, does this applicant exhibit potential for further leadership growth?
- Entrepreneurial Competencies and Know-How: does the applicant demonstrate sound knowledge and application entrepreneurial know-how, ideas, and principles? Is the applicant at a stage in his/her entrepreneurial journey to benefit from the YTILI fellowship program?
- Intellectual Curiosity: Has the applicant demonstrated a desire to learn and expand his/her professional and intellectual horizons through the fellowship? Does he/she demonstrate curiosity about exploring entrepreneurial ecosystems in the U.S. and examining innovation and entrepreneurship in the transatlantic context?
- Goal orientation and mission - is the applicant clear on their desired goals for participating in the program and are these goals reasonable within the scope of the program? Does the applicant have a clear vision for how the YTILI program can advance their business or social enterprise?
- Resourcefulness/Adaptability/Positive Attitude: Has the applicant demonstrated an ability to adapt to difficult or difficult circumstances? that will certainly arise during the program?
- Network and Cohort Mindfulness: does the applicant see themselves as a contributor to the YTILI network and not just a beneficiary?
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