Publication Date: May 14, 2024
Publication Location: Washington, DC
Contact: Abby Henson   |   [email protected]

Today, the Stevens Initiative announced World Learning is one of 11 schools, higher education institutions, and nonprofit organizations to receive funding to run virtual exchange programs that connect young people in the United States and the Middle East and North Africa. 

STEAM Innovations is implemented by World Learning and is supported by the J. Christopher Stevens Virtual Exchange Initiative (JCSVEI). JCSVEI is a U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs program administered by the Aspen Institute. 

“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.” 

Virtual exchange connects young people from around the world for learning and collaboration, immersing them in digital spaces to gain practical skills and build friendships along the way. It is a powerful tool to reimagine what global learning looks like, how it can be conducted, and how many people participate.

World Learning’s STEAM Innovations effectively prepares college-aged youth from Algeria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and the United States for successful exploration of future STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) specialties and careers, while fostering cross-cultural understanding and equipping them with critical skills, a global perspective, and the ability to contribute meaningfully to their communities.

“World Learning is excited to launch its new STEAM Innovations program,” said World Learning CEO Carol Jenkins. “The inclusive program optimizes participant engagement around STEAM discovery, civic engagement, language learning, and entrepreneurship. It culminates in participant-designed, collaborative projects that address local or global issues in innovative, entrepreneurial ways.”

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:

  • Digital Promise’s Building Apps Across Cultures
  • Florida International University’s Virtual Tabadul: Creating Language-Learning Community Through Virtual Reality 
  • Global Nomads Group’s (GNG) Overcoming Bias in AI 
  • Miami Dade College’s Climate Stories
  • Seattle University School of Law’s Transitional Justice Legal Exchange 
  • Shenandoah University’s (SU) Virtually Going Global 
  • Take Action Global’s Taking Climate Action Together
  • Texas International Education Consortium’s Community Climate Connect 
  • United Planet’s Youth2Youth Impact Investing 
  • University of Florida’s Hands-on Energy and Thermo-fluids (HEAT) Program 

World Learning is a global nonprofit that works to create a more sustainable, peaceful, and just world through education, cultural exchange, and locally led development. Through a portfolio of nearly 100 programs, World Learning helps equip individuals and institutions with fundamental and 21st-century skills, intercultural understanding, and networks worldwide to solve today’s most pressing and complex challenges. For more information, visit

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. To learn more, contact Maura Daley at [email protected] or visit

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. To learn more, email [email protected] or 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