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Professional Partnership Initiatives

Learn about the bureau's professional partnership initiatives.

The U.S. Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs has long-standing partnerships with organizations that advance foreign relations and people-to-people diplomacy.


Sister Cities International

Sister Cities International (SCI) is a not for profit member association for U.S. sister community organizations that was founded by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1956.

A sister city, county, or state relationship is a broad-based, long-term partnership between two communities in two countries through which cultural, educational, business, and technical exchanges take place. SCI provides assistance and expertise to more than 500 U.S. member communities with more than 2,000 partnerships worldwide to help strengthen their sister city organizations.

To get involved in an existing sister city organization, visit the online directory at and search for your community. If your city does not have an organization and you would like to start one, contact SCI at or visit the Sister Cities International website Embassies contacted for assistance in establishing a sister city relationship should contact SCI’s Membership Department at


U.S.-Japan Conference on Cultural and Educational Interchange (CULCON)

CULCON originated in a series of discussions between President John F. Kennedy and Prime Minister Ikeda in 1962 as a high-level, informal advisory panel to the two governments for educational and cultural exchanges. This informal arrangement was formalized by an exchange of memoranda in 1968, which established standing subcommittees to generate agendas for biannual plenary sessions. CULCON is a binational advisory panel that serves to elevate and strengthen the vital cultural and educational foundations of the U.S.-Japan relationship, and to strengthen connections between U.S. and Japan leadership in those fields. With support from the U.S. Department of State, CULCON engages and informs U.S. audiences about opportunities for educational and cultural exchange that will train the next generation in the nuances of the U.S.-Japan relationship.


Partners of the Americas

Inspired by President Kennedy and founded in 1964 under the Alliance for Progress, Partners of the Americas is a 501(c) 3 non-profit, non-partisan organization with international offices in Washington, DC. Partners of the Americas connects volunteers, international development professionals, governments, businesses, and higher education institutions to implement programs in Latin America and the Caribbean who, together, develop lasting solutions to our hemisphere’s toughest challenges.


American Council of Young Political Leaders

ACYPL, established in 1966, is a nonpartisan nonprofit organization and internationally recognized catalyst for introducing rising political and policy professionals to international affairs and to each other. ACYPL’s mission is to promote mutual understanding, respect, and friendship and to cultivate long lasting relationships among next generation political leaders around the world. With support from the U.S. Department of State, business, labor, foundation, and alumni partners, ACYPL designs and conducts 16 - 20 exchanges annually. The program is designed for a politically balanced group of emerging leaders under the age of 40 to experience another country's political environment for 8 - 14 days.

How to Apply: both U.S. and non-U.S. young political leaders can apply for this exchange through the ACYPL website.


U.S.- Republic of Korea National Assembly Exchange

The program was created in 1981 by U.S. Representative Ben Gilman and his counterpart in the Korea National Assembly David Pong. Jointly funded by the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and the Republic of Korea National Assembly, this unique program brings together young professionals from both the U.S. and Korea for a memorable and educational opportunity to build lasting cross-border relationships.

Participants will better understand the legislative process, the history of U.S. - Korean relations, and current economic, political, and security aspects of the bilateral relationship.

U.S. citizens, between the ages of 20 and 27 years old, who meet all of the following requirements for the exchange program may apply: (1) an active interest in the U.S. government, U.S. foreign policy, and/or U.S. Korean bilateral relations; (2) a minimum of two academic years completed at an accredited institution of higher learning; (3) a nomination by a member of the U.S. Congress, with preference given to current or former interns.


National Youth Science Foundation

The National Youth Science Foundation® (NYSF), Inc., established in 1983, is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) corporation that provides STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math)-focused programs for college-bound students from across the United States and the Western Hemisphere. Each year U.S. Embassies in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Mexico, and Trinidad and Tobago select two students from each country to participate in the National Youth Science Camp. U.S. students can apply online through the NYSF website. 


Institute for Representative Government

The Institute for Representative Government (IRG) was established in 1988 by a group of former Members of Congress as an independent, bipartisan, non-profit organization to provide high level, professional exchange programs for parliamentarians from developing or newly-established democracies. With this vision, legislators from emerging democracies come to the United States, learn how government operates on the national and state levels, and interact with current and former lawmakers. Former U.S. lawmakers make reciprocal visits to countries across the world to engage with their counterparts.


Mansfield Foundation

The Mansfield Fellowship Program was estab­lished by the U.S. Congress in 1994 to build a corps of U.S. federal government employees with proficiency in the Japanese language and practical, firsthand knowledge about Japan and its government. Through their fellowships in Japan, Americans develop networks of contacts in Japan and an understanding of the political, economic and strategic dimensions of the U.S.-Japan relationship.


The Solidarity Center

The Solidarity Center, established in 1997, is the largest U.S.-based international worker rights organization helping workers attain safe and healthy workplaces, family-supporting wages, dignity on the job and greater equity at work and in their community. Allied with the AFL-CIO, the Solidarity Center assists workers across the globe as, together, they fight discrimination, exploitation and the systems that entrench poverty—to achieve shared prosperity in the global economy.