Stevens Initiative Response to the Coronavirus Pandemic
April 20, 2020

From the announcement:

The coronavirus pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of daily life around the world, including education and exchange activities. Schools, colleges, universities, and other organizations worldwide have cancelled in-person classes, meetings, and exchange programs. Young people are adapting to learning from home, travel is severely curtailed for the foreseeable future, and summer exchange programs for tens of thousands of young people have been cancelled. In these difficult times, we need to find innovative ways to sustain learning and connections among young people who are isolated. The Stevens Initiative Response to the Coronavirus Pandemic includes three pathways to support various stakeholders as the pandemic impacts education.
Through this response, the Stevens Initiative aims to engage anyone interested in bringing virtual exchange to youth in their community. If you are unfamiliar with the Initiative or the basics of virtual exchange and want to learn more before engaging in any of the below pathways, register for the April 23rd info session here.

As countless summer in-person education and exchange programs are cancelled, many young people will be unable to access important global education opportunities. To address this, the Stevens Initiative has created a fund to support the transition of these programs from in-person to virtual exchanges. The Initiative will also fund preparation for future virtual exchange implementation and the adaptation of existing virtual exchange programs as they respond to this global crisis.

The response fund is for education and non-profit organizations based in the United States and in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) proposing to conduct activities between the U.S. and MENA.

The Initiative has a dedicated page with extensive information about grant parameters and eligibility. You can visit this page, which includes the full call for proposals and application information, here.

Call for Proposals and Application
Webinar: Stevens Initiative Coronavirus Response Fund
Training and Mentorship
Transitioning from in-person to virtual activities can be challenging. The Initiative is hosting three trainings for adapting in-person programs to virtual exchange. Following these training sessions, mentorship opportunities will be available for those who wish to receive continued, individualized support.

More information about training sessions can be accessed on the Initiative’s Events page. Trainings are open to the public (organizations and individuals around the world). Anyone interested in starting a virtual exchange program, getting involved in a virtual exchange program, or adapting an existing virtual exchange program to the current crisis is welcome to attend these trainings.

Mentorship sessions are offered for practitioners to get advice and feedback from virtual exchange experts as they work on their program plans and implementation over the spring and summer. Mentors will try to help practitioners reflect on how their work is progressing, navigate challenging situations, and draw on promising practices from the virtual exchange field. Individuals or organizations can sign up for a one-on-one mentoring session or can join a small group office hours-style mentoring session. Priority will be given to those who are adapting an in-person exchange or education program to be virtual exchange. Other interested individuals and organizations will be able to receive mentoring as capacity allows. Mentoring sign-up will begin on April 29; a link to the mentoring sign-up system will be added to this page at that time.

Training 1: Introduction to Virtual Exchange and the Importance of Partnerships
Training 2: Activity Planning and Fundamentals of Facilitation
Training 3: Technology, Logistics, and Overcoming Common Challenges
To address a need to help educators, administrators, virtual exchange implementers and practitioners, and families adjust to digital education and learning, the Stevens Initiative developed a curated list of resources that can be used during the pandemic and in the future. The resources, which mainly focus on virtual exchange, are listed under an audience group and include an annotation to make the webpage easier to navigate. Most of these resources were shared with the Stevens Initiative by virtual exchange practitioners and experts.

Resources, including webinars, toolkits, and other publications, are available to anyone interested in accessing tools and publications about virtual exchange.

Access Curated Resource List
Access all Stevens Initiative Resources
Access all Stevens Initiative Videos
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Stevens Initiative and how do I learn more about its work? What is virtual exchange? How do I learn more about it?

To learn more about the Stevens Initiative and virtual exchange, you can sign up for our next Info Session, which is scheduled for Thursday, April 23rd at 12pm Eastern Time. Learn more here. You can also view our curated list of resources about virtual exchange here.

What do you mean by an in-person education program?

In-person education programs include classroom-based courses at the primary, secondary, and higher education levels. It also includes extra-curricular activities or activities that occur alongside classroom instruction, whether conducted in school or outside school, such as student or youth clubs, before- or after-school activities, sports, art and performance, field trips, volunteering and community service, and others.

I live outside of the U.S. and MENA region. Can I still participate in the fund or in the training and mentorship tracks?

While the fund is only for U.S. and MENA based applicants, training and mentorship is open to anyone. Please note that space is limited for mentorship opportunities.

Do I or my organization need to attend one or more training sessions to be eligible to receive a grant?

Applicants to the Initiative’s response fund are encouraged but not required to attend the sponsored training sessions. Training sessions could be helpful for developing strong proposals, particularly for organizations new to virtual exchange and the Stevens Initiative, which is why they are scheduled during the grant application window.

Do I or my organization have to pay to attend a Stevens Initiative-sponsored training?

Stevens Initiative trainings are free to attend, but attendees must register ahead of time. Register to attend here.

Can I share the invitation to the Stevens Initiative trainings with others at my organization?

Organizations or groups are welcome to have more than one person attend the trainings. All attendees will need to register in advance to be admitted to the trainings. We ask attendees to be mindful that the opportunity to ask questions during the webinar is intended to be shared equitably among all attendees.

I am interested in attending a training session, but I am unable to make one/all of the training sessions. Will the Stevens Initiative offer future training sessions?

At this time the Initiative does not plan to offer future training and will continue to assess the coronavirus pandemic and the needs of education and exchange organizations. If you are unable to attend any of the Initiative’s training sessions, recordings will be posted to the Initiative’s YouTube channel.

Will there be future opportunities if the coronavirus pandemic continues past this summer?

At this time the Initiative does not plan to offer future trainings or response funds beyond the trainings and competition outlined here, but will continue to assess the crisis and the needs of education and exchange organizations in the future.

I am a young person or a parent of a young person whose summer education or exchange program was cancelled. How can I participate in a virtual exchange?

The below are Stevens Initiative-funded virtual exchange programs that have current open-enrollment opportunities for youth.

seat at the table, Global Nomads Group: seat at the table is a virtual community where youth meaningfully interact, share stories, and form bonds across distance and difference. Young people ages 16-19 connect over video and share how they are experiencing COVID-19 in their local communities, and hear from other youth about what’s happening in other parts of the world.
Student to World, Global Nomads Group: This online program for youth ages 12-18 explores global issues through activities, curated media resources, and stories created by youth worldwide. As a personalized learning journey, youth are able to self-pace through the thematic courses on their own, gaining the 21st century and social emotional learning skills to prepare them for their futures.
The Experiment Digital, World Learning: Designed to connect high school students in U.S. with peers in Iraq, Algeria, and Yemen, The Experiment Digital prepares participants to be more civically engaged and lead change. This fully funded eight-week summer virtual experience teaches students to formulate and implement service projects in their local communities. Students can apply online and join this summer’s free program.
Does the Stevens Initiative offer resources and training on digital education/learning or distance learning?

The Stevens Initiative offers funding, training, and resources on virtual exchange programs, which the Initiative defines as sustained, online learning or collaboration among peers in different countries. While digital education/learning can include virtual exchange, the learning must include the aforementioned components in order to be considered a virtual exchange. For more information on the Initiative’s classification of these learning terms, see the Initiative’s blog on digital learning options during the coronavirus pandemic here.