What is the Faces of America (FoA) Diversity Scholarship Initiative?
The Faces of America (FoA) Diversity Scholarship Initiative aims to ensure that global education and study abroad opportunities are made available to all communities and are reflective of the diversity of our country.
AFS-USA partners with community-based organizations and AFS volunteer-run local scholarship foundations to award full scholarships for summer programs to promising young scholars from underserved and underrepresented communities.
In 1995, AFS-USA, with funding from the DeWitt Wallace Fund, launched a diversity scholarship initiative targeting youth in urban areas. The goal was to reduce the cost barriers to participating in a life-changing high school study abroad program. In 2007, the scholarship initiative was renamed Faces of America.
Since 2010, FoA has awarded scholarships to more than 1,200 outstanding teenagers. They have participated in AFS programs to more than 30 destinations. Over 90% of FoA participants go on to college, and many participate in undergraduate exchange programs.
In the most recent years, about 50 FOA students participate to 8-10 summer program destinations.
How does FoA works?
To be considered for the Faces of America Scholarship students must be nominated by a partnering FoA community-based organization (CBOs). The students cannot apply for FoA individually. FOA students participate in summer programs only. The FoA CBOs start their recruitment process in the fall, soon after summer program applications are launched. There are a limited number of FOA spots in each summer program. Each CBO will nominate a specific number of students as previously agreed with AFS-USA.
In consultation with AFS-USA, CBOs will provide local support and guidance during the application process. This local support is invaluable and often involves working directly with the FoA applicants’ parents to bring them on board with the study abroad opportunity. CBOs will also serve as a point of contact for AFS-USA when students are on program. AFS-USA staff will work directly with the FoA applicants to ensure their applications meet a high standard before sending them off to AFS hosting partners for a review.
Since FoA's post-pandemic revival, we have been working with about 9 CBOs.
- Globe Runner Scholarship Fund – Albuquerque, NM
- Quest Scholarship Fund - St. Louis, MO
- SEO – New York City, NY
- Adams Street Foundation - New York City, NY
- Dean’s Future Scholars (DFS) – Reno, NV
- Metro Achievement Center for Girls – Chicago, IL
- The Bridge to - Kauai, HI
- HighSight - Chicago, IL
- YES Prep Public Schools – Houston, TX
FoA NSLI-Y Special Initiatives
AFS-USA program partnership with NSLI-Y aims to provide high-achieving Faces of America students (of diverse backgrounds and low-income families) with the opportunity to participate in a prestigious and competitive full scholarship language program offered by the U.S. Department of State.
NSLI-Y program promotes critical language learning among American youth. Program goals include improving the ability of Americans to engage with people of Arabic, Chinese, Hindi, Korean, Persian, Russian, Turkish and Indonesian speaking countries through shared language and developing advanced linguistic skills and related cultural understanding for Americans.
The NSLI-Y Special Initiatives applicants may apply for the summer program only. AFS-USA is granted a limited number of spots each year for FoA students. FoA CBOs are invited to nominate their selected students in previous agreement on a number of available spots for each CBO. This usually happens by the end of October, as NSLI-Y application deadlines are traditionally at the beginning of November.
Throughout the application process, AFS-USA provides application information, requirements, guidance, and support to the CBOs and selected applicants (nominees) to ensure the applications are submitted by the deadline and meet a level or expected quality. It is done through informational webinars, written materials, mock interview exercises etc.
AFS-USA does not have any involvement in application review, selection process, and NSLI-Y program management. The program is administered by American Councils for International Education (ACIE) in cooperation with other organizations including AFS-USA. In this set-up AFS-USA is an administrator of NSLI-Y interview process and one of the placement organizations, mainly for Indonesian, Hindi, and Turkish languages. Beyond recruitment of the FOA students, AFS-USA also serves as a communication liaison between ACIE and FOA CBOs as the FOA nominees move through the application process.
Supporting FoA Applicants
There are a few ways in which AFS-USA volunteers can contribute to the FoA initiative. Each summer program cycle we are looking for sending interviewers to help interview FOA applicants and be sensitive to their often-unique personal circumstances.
FoA students often come from challenging backgrounds and lack the educational resources to help them prepare for events such as study abroad opportunities and scholarship interviews. As a result, they may not always present themselves at the interviews in the expected ways, which we strongly feel should not be detrimental to their application. Keeping an open mind and assessing the FoA applicant holistically at the interview is a critical step in their application process. The interview exercise is often invaluable learning experience, as reported by the applicants afterwards.
Like any other students, FoA applicants are also invited to participate in local pre-departure orientations if they live in the area with access to the AT and orientation sites.
If you are working directly with FOA applicants, we recommend you review this Faces of America Scholarship Application Guide and share it with the applicants to help them understand the application process.
Getting Involved with FoA
If you would like to learn more about how your team can contribute to and/or get involved with Faces of America, please contact Adriana Miladinovic, Sr. Study Abroad Manager for Visas, Scholarships, and Diversity Initiatives at email@example.com