Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Liz Allen marked the 10th anniversary of the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI), the U.S. government’s signature program to strengthen leadership development and networking, in Southeast Asia in Bali, Indonesia December 4.  Under Secretary Allen delivered opening remarks at “YSEALI Summit 2023:  A Decade of Impact,” highlighting the United States’ commitment to deepening relations with Southeast Asian youth and outlining our vision for the future of YSEALI.  This is a vision in which the Department of State continues to invest in young leaders who spearhead positive change in civic engagement, economic empowerment, social entrepreneurship, education access, and environment and sustainability in their communities and across borders. Since YSEALI was launched as a Presidential initiative on December 3, 2013, YSEALI’s digital network has grown to nearly 160,000 youth change-makers across all ASEAN member states and Timor-Leste.  More than 6,000 of those network members are alumni who have participated in YSEALI exchange programs, regional workshops, the YSEALI Academy at Fulbright University Vietnam, and YSEALI Seeds for the Future grant competitions.  During the past 10 years, YSEALI has dedicated more than $2.2 million in funding for community projects within Southeast Asia.  Recognizing YSEALI’s success toward building connections, the White House announced at the May 2022 ASEAN Summit that YSEALI’s academic and professional exchange programs to the United States are poised to double in size, to 900 participants each year by 2025.

To celebrate the #YSEALI10 Anniversary, the U.S. Department of State will launch several new initiatives.  Vice President Harris announced the first YSEALI Next Executive Steering Committee on the margins of the U.S.-ASEAN Summit in September.  Under Secretary Allen convened this group of 22 YSEALI program alumni for the first time to underscore their important role advising the U.S. government on the best path forward for YSEALI to grow, develop, and engage youth and alumni leaders in the region.  Additionally, in coordination with USAID and implementing partners, the Department of State anticipates the recruitment of the first cohort of the YSEALI Mekong program in early 2024.  This program will enhance the leadership capabilities of youth with a specific focus on issues relating to climate change, environment, and biodiversity within the Mekong sub-region, supporting objectives of the Mekong-U.S. Partnership.  These are just a few of the programs planned for this anniversary year.

YSEALI members represent the breadth and diversity of ASEAN, and they all exemplify the YSEALI motto:  “You are never too young to lead.”

U.S. Department of State

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