Monitoring, Evaluation, Research, and Learning

World Learning’s Monitoring, Evaluation, Research, and Learning (MERL) team excels in conducting advanced and innovative approaches to monitoring and evaluation.

Because we understand that program design and implementation is a complex undertaking that takes place in complex environments, our team always uses a systematic process to capture, analyze, and share programmatic data.

Our tailored approach relies upon close collaboration and effective communication to address all stakeholder needs so that we ensure our work is highly effective and impactful.

We have extensive experience in designing evaluation frameworks under USAID and other donor-funded programs and have a vanguard approach to assessing the success of new educational programs.

Examples of World Learning’s MERL capabilities include:

  • Developing and running the monitoring and evaluation systems for the USAID Transforming Higher Educations Systems program in Malawi, a multiyear initiative involving several university and private sector partners
  • Specializing in the use of the MODE Framework developed by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs
  • Implementing a randomized control trial to determine the effectiveness of a new high-school economics curriculum for the USAID Youth Employment Skills program in Uzbekistan, the first time such an approach has been used for a USAID-funded initiative

Experiential Learning

For more than 90 years, experiential learning has been a hallmark of World Learning’s approach to change. It started with the first group of students who traveled to Europe with The Experiment in International Living in 1932: They went to learn about new cultures by living in them. They returned transformed. Now all of World Learning’s education, development, and exchange programs are grounded in the principles of experiential learning.

Often called learning by doing, experiential learning is an educational approach that engages students in hands-on activities and encourages them to reflect on and interpret their observations from those experiences. This period of reflection enables students to take action, experiment, or problem-solve using their new depth of knowledge.

Whether we’re working with teachers, youth, community leaders, or civil society organizations, World Learning’s emphasis on experiential learning encourages people around the world to listen, learn, reflect, and ultimately make informed plans to create change in their lives and their communities.

Learn more about how experiential learning enriches our work across our six program areas.

Leadership Development

World Learning is committed to helping emerging leaders tackle the challenges of a complex world. We work with people of all ages and backgrounds to develop their leadership skills, which they can draw on to make a difference locally and globally.

We foster youth leadership through international exchanges like The Experiment in International Living and the Iraqi Young Leaders Exchange Program. These programs bring together young people from the United States and around the world to strengthen their sense of civic responsibility, develop communication skills, build lasting friendships across cultures, and cultivate the ability, confidence, and motivation to make a difference in their communities. Our youth exchanges don’t end when participants return home—many go on to organize action projects in their communities.

Our professional exchange and development programs motivate participants to take initiative and drive change. The Leaders Advancing Democracy Mongolia program brings young democracy activists together to collaborate on ways to solve their country’s most pressing issues. In Kosovo, our Transformational Leadership Program gives a new generation of leaders the opportunity to pursue master’s degrees in the U.S., then return home to strengthen their professional fields and rebuild a war-torn society. Our global development programs employ the same strategy. For example, in El Salvador, our Higher Education for Economic Growth Project trains educators to use cutting-edge strategies to transform their universities.

Ultimately, our programs cultivate the core principles of leadership. This is evident in our results: Program participants routinely report an increase in confidence, cultural intelligence, and empathy, as well as a clearer understanding of what it means to lead. They report a sense of responsibility to ͞pay it forward͟ through volunteerism, civic engagement, and deeper involvement in their communities.

Learn more about how leadership development enriches our work across our six program areas.


Our global development and exchange programs prize innovative thinking to meet the many challenges of a complex and high-speed world. Innovation helps us connect with more people in difficult-to-reach communities, create new opportunities for them in a rapidly changing workforce, and find creative solutions to global challenges.

Technology has opened new doors for outreach. Virtual platforms make our services more accessible and relevant to even more people. Not everyone can take advantage of traditional exchange or training programs—travel can be prohibitive for cultural, economic, political, and health-related reasons. Virtual platforms help us bring our programming to them, whether we’re training teachers in English language education or connecting young people to learn about new cultures.

In the 21st-century workforce, it’s critical to leverage technological skills to help people advance and succeed. With the support of private sector partners like Boeing and Cisco, we train our program participants in the technical and STEM skills that help them find and create employment opportunities—and even go on to develop their own world-changing innovations. We also work with corporations to understand the skills they need, and match employers to employees in programs like our Youth Employment Project in Algeria.

But it’s not only technology that drives our innovation. By constantly incorporating new research and ideas into our programming, we remain at the vanguard of international development. We believe it is fundamental to listen to local perspectives from diverse cultures and contexts. Solutions that work in one setting may not fit another, while different projects and regions can inspire new ideas and create new tools. We also regularly evaluate our work to look for better and more efficient ways to pursue our vision of a more peaceful and just world.

Learn more about how innovation enriches our work across our six program areas.

Grants Management

World Learning leads in the use of grantmaking as a development tool. We believe that even small grants can make a big difference all over the world. Grants support emerging leaders as they launch projects to improve their communities. They strengthen institutions striving to meet new goals and serve more people. But grants are more than funding—they’re real-world learning opportunities.

We have extensive experience in managing grants under USAID and other donor-funded programs. We work with individual NGOs, networks, and intermediary organizations in development sectors ranging from health and education to democracy and enterprise development. Our grants programs have total funds as large as $79 million; individual grants range from as little as $500 to as much as $3.5 million. Regardless of the level of funding provided, each successful grant was the result of World Learning’s localized, participatory, and partnership-focused approach to working with local organizations.

In that approach, we work hands-on with our partners through all stages of the process. We have developed mechanisms to select grantee organizations, and we provide them with targeted technical assistance, training, and mentoring to ensure they will be able to carry out their proposed community project. To help our partners improve their services, we also offer our custom Participatory Institutional Analysis (PIA) tool, which helps them assess their performance and develop a plan for change. Even once the grant has ended, our grantee organizations can continue to use the PIA for continuous improvement.

Through our grants management approach, our partners learn how to serve their communities by actually serving their communities. They’re learning by doing—and they continue this work on their own longer after we’re gone to become stronger and better equipped to transform their communities.

Learn more about how grants management enriches our work across our six program areas.