Tech Innovation & Entrepreneurship Fellowship Program
Tech Innovation & Entrepreneurship Fellowship Program
The U.S. Department of State Professional Fellows Program brings emerging leaders from around the world to the United States for intensive fellowships designed to broaden their professional expertise. Participants complete individually-tailored fellowships in appropriate businesses, government offices, nonprofit organizations, or business associations. The program establishes structured interaction among Americans and foreign participants designed to develop enduring professional ties and lasting partnerships.
WorldChicago, an international nonprofit organization based in Chicago, Illinois, has been awarded an FY2019 grant from the U.S. Department of State to implement the Tech Innovation and Entrepreneurship Fellowship Program for Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Slovenia, North Macedonia, Montenegro and the United States in spring and fall 2020. The program will bring 16 emerging tech entrepreneurship leaders from Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Slovenia, North Macedonia, and Montenegro to Chicago for a program that includes four-week fellowships with leading Chicago-based tech-related companies in a variety of fields; government agencies and NGOs that promote innovation and entrepreneurship; and university and non-university technology incubators.
Fellows will also participate in group training seminars, action planning workshops, and site visits focused on strengthening the entrepreneurship ecosystem. At the end of the program, fellows participate in the U.S. Department of State Professional Fellows Congress in Washington, D.C. which brings together over 250 fellows from multiple regions and different thematic areas (legislative, economic empowerment, and the rule of law) for three days of networking and meetings to complement the fellowship.
Recruitment and selection of candidates targets English-fluent emerging leaders (age 25-40) from innovation and entrepreneurship communities working in the private, public, and NGO sectors. Criteria for each sector:
- Private sector : Recruitment will focus on entrepreneurial leaders from small or startup business ventures in tech fields that have a demonstrated track record of civic engagement and/or social entrepreneurship.
- Public sector: Recruitment in the public sector will focus on public officials whose work centers on creation of incubation hubs, promoting job growth in tech fields, and/or the promotion of sustainable and inclusive economic development.
- NGO sector: Recruitment from the NGO community will focus on emerging NGO leaders working on creation of jobs in tech fields and community-based and education training programs in tech fields for students, women, minorities, persons with disabilities, and other marginalized populations.
WorldChicago and partner organizations will work to ensure that diversity is taken into consideration during the selection process and that an appropriate balance of men and women are selected for the program. We encourage people with disabilities and from other diverse backgrounds to apply. Additionally, WorldChicago will target participants who have a demonstrated track record of leadership, civic engagement, and desire to build lasting connections with U.S.-based organizations.
While in Chicago, all participants will stay with volunteer homestay hosts in the Chicago metropolitan area. In addition to the completion of a four-week fellowship, program participants will participate in group training sessions, workshops on corporate social responsibility, and sessions focused on how to create an effective entrepreneurship/investment climate in an urban environment. Selected fellows will also participate in the U.S. Department of State Professional Fellows Congress in Washington, D.C. at the conclusion of the program. The Congress brings together 250 Professional Fellows from multiple regions and different thematic areas (legislative, economic empowerment, and the rule of law) for three days of networking and meetings to complement the fellowship.
In addition to the Chicago-based program, 8 tech entrepreneurial leaders from Chicago will also be selected for reciprocal exchanges to travel to Central Europe in Fall 2020. The primary feature of this reciprocal exchange is a two-day tech innovation summit in one of these 4 countries. In addition to the tech innovation summit, participants will learn about the entrepreneurship culture in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Slovenia, North Macedonia and Montenegro; conduct workshops in their areas of expertise; and establish mentoring partnerships between the entrepreneurship civic community in Chicago and each country. WorldChicago will work closely with established in-country partners and selected fellows to coordinate the in-country programs.
Additional Eligibility Requirements
Competition for the Professional Fellows Program is merit-based and open to young professionals and emerging leaders, ages 25 – 40, who meet the following criteria:
- Is between the ages of 25 and 40 at the time of application:
- Is a citizen, national, or permanent resident of their home country;
- Is living and working in his/her home country at the time of application;
- Submits a complete application, with all required documents, by the application deadline;
- Is able to begin the Professional Fellows Program in the United States in 2020;
- Is able to receive a U.S J-1 visa;
- Is committed to returning to his/her home country after completion of the program; and
- Is proficient in spoken and written English at the time of application.
*Please note, selected program participants are not able to bring spouses or family members to the United States for the program. Priority will be given to applicants who do not have significant educational and/or work experience in the United States.
Individual in the following circumstances are NOT eligible for the Professional Fellows Program:
- U.S. citizens and/or permanent residents of the United States;
- Spouses of U.S. citizens and/or permanent residents of the United States;
- Individuals participating in academic, training or research programs in the United States at the time of application;
- Individuals residing or working outside their home countries at the time of application;
- Individuals who have participated in an exchange visitor program sponsored or funded by the U.S. Government (e.g., U.S. Department of State, Public Affairs Sections of U.S. Embassies, or other U.S Government agencies) who have not fulfilled their two-year home residency requirement by the time of application;
- Individuals who have attended and received a degree or diploma from a U.S. based higher education institution;
- Individuals who have resided in the United States for one year or more;
- Employees and their families of nonprofit organizations who administer the Professional Fellows Program on behalf of the U.S. Department of State. This provision does not disqualify self-supporting members of families who live apart from their parents;
- Local employees of the U.S. missions abroad who work for the U.S. Department of State or the U.S. Agency for International Development are ineligible for grants during the period of their employment and for one year following the termination of employment;
- Immediate families (i.e., spouses and dependent children) of U.S. Department of State and U.S. Agency for International Development employees for a period of one year following the termination of such employment. This provision does not disqualify self-supporting members of families who live apart from their parents.
- April 30, 2020: Application deadline for Spring 2020 program
- July, 2020: Finalists and alternates selected and notified
- October 16 – November 19, 2020: Spring 2020 program dates