COUNTRIES: Iraq, United States, West Bank and Gaza
DURATION: 04/01/2019 - 06/30/2021
FUNDER: U.S. Department of State, The Stevens Initiative, The Aspen Institute
PARTNER: BiteTech, Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis, Palestine Polytechnic University, Partners for Sustainable Development, Save Youth Future Society, Speak Now English Center, and Volunteer With Us

Program Description

The NextGen Coders Network brings together multidisciplinary university students and young professionals from Iraq, the Palestinian Territories, and the U.S. for a virtual exchange to learn coding and collaborate on a website or application that tackles a grand challenge.

Participants complete a 10-week virtual “Hackathon,” using the online platform Canvas, which allows them to experience a cultural exchange program from the comfort of their own home. The program is broken down into ten modules, which cover everything from intercultural communication to project management, design thinking to coding for change, including the option to pursue coding for the web or coding for mobile applications. Participants complete the course requirements both individually on Canvas and as part of a team on WhatsApp and Skype. Teams are assisted by a facilitator, who can guide participants through the course and provide help as required.

Teams of up to six participants develop, plan, and carry out the creation of a project, which is presented during the Solutions Showcase at the end of the program. In the first semester, teams produced final projects on topics like education, refugee camps, and sports diplomacy. Upon completion of the program, participants are awarded a certificate of completion and join the alumni networks of NGCN, World Learning, and the Aspen Institute.

Solving today’s grand challenges requires a diversity of perspectives and professional backgrounds. Through NGCN, World Learning aims to provide bright young professionals the resources and platform necessary to create innovative solutions to the problems they are passionate about.

“My experience in this program was very beautiful, I benefited a lot from it in many ways, including getting to know other cultures and forming a team of people I don’t know, then they became my friends and we worked on a joint project idea to benefit our societies.” — Sally Manasrah, Fall 2019 Alumni, Hebron, Palestinian Territories

NGCN is supported by its incredible regional partners:


The NGCN team at World Learning HQ includes:

  • Deepa Srikantaiah, Program Director
  • Katya Murillo, Program Manager
  • Hailee Meacham, Program Associate
  • Natzinet Ghebrenegus, Program Associate


The NextGen Coders Network is funded by the Stevens Initiative, which is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, with funding provided by the U.S. Government, and is administered by the Aspen Institute.

Program Goals

  • Bring together young professionals from MENA and the US to create solutions to their community’s grand challenges using code.
  • Provide a widely accessible international exchange experience to participants.
  • Train participants in valuable technical and soft skills, including coding, intercultural communication, and project management.
  • Engage participants in an opportunity to create change through their coursework.