The Future Leaders Exchange (FLEX) Program is a US government-sponsored program for secondary school students from 10 of the republics of the former Soviet Union (Eurasia). The program provides scholarship funding for students to travel to the United States, attend a US high school for a full academic year, and live with a US host family.
FLEX was established in 1992 as the centerpiece of the Eurasian Secondary School Initiative under the FREEDOM Support Act. Funding is provided by the US Department of State. The program was created from the conviction of former Senator Bill Bradley that the best way to ensure long lasting peace and understanding between the United States and the countries of Eurasia is to enable young people from these countries to learn about the U.S. and Americans firsthand. The primary goal of FLEX is improving mutual understanding between our countries and allowing young citizens of Eurasia to have the opportunity to observe and experience our system of government. Since the program's inception in 1993, over 17,000 young citizens from Eurasia have participated in FLEX and have returned to their countries imbued with a new enthusiasm and desire to help others and share their newly acquired experiences and knowledge for the betterment of their home communities and countries.
American Councils is the central FLEX administrative organization. Its responsibilities include, among other things, recruiting and evaluating scholarship applicants, selecting finalists, arranging roundtrip travel between the students’ homes throughout Eurasia to their host families throughout the United States, providing on-program support for the students and their natural parents, as well as organizing and supporting alumni activities.
Finalists are chosen through a multi-layered, merit-based selection process that draws more than 40,000 candidates annually. Participation in the selection process is open to all students that meet the eligibility requirements, which include age limitations, satisfactory academic standing, English language training, Eurasian country citizenship, and US visa eligibility requirements. Selection is based on the evaluation of multiple factors that contribute to a positive exchange experience and provide evidence of leadership potential. All finalists undergo an extensive orientation to life in America, and pursue a full course of study at a US high school. Following completion of their program students must return to their homes in Eurasia, where numerous FLEX alumni associations sponsor activities throughout the year.
US host families and US high schools are recruited by multiple US partner organizations selected by the US Department of State. These organizations are responsible for on-program support for host families and schools, as well as for the students. For program year 2008-09 these organizations include:
Academic Year in America
American Councils for International Education
Center for Cultural Interchange
Council on International Educational Exchange
Pacific Intercultural Exchange-USA
Program of Academic Exchange
WorldWise Exchange Services
For additional information, please visit:
FLEX web site at the US Department of State: http://exchanges.state.gov/youth/index.html
Visit this program's web site for more information.