2024 Benjamin Franklin Transatlantic Fellowship

2024 Benjamin Franklin Transatlantic Fellowship Opportunity for High School Students


Deadline for application:  February 15, 2024

The U.S. State Department, Bureau of Cultural and Educational Affairs, and the U.S. Embassy in Lisbon are pleased to announce the 2024 cycle of this intensive short-term exchange program created to foster relationships among young Europeans and Americans to build strong linkages and awareness of shared values. The fellowship is named after the legendary American statesman and diplomat, Benjamin Franklin, in honor of the inspiration that his own life and career provides to those who are working to strengthen transatlantic cooperation.  In today’s terms, Franklin could be called a transatlantic connector, someone whose career, interests, studies, and life took him back and forth across the Atlantic Ocean, bringing Americans and Europeans closer in understanding.

The program will enable selected teenagers, ages 16-18, to participate in an intensive four-week exchange program in the United States that focuses on the global issues facing both European and American youth.  The fellowship will enable students to explore U.S. foreign policy priorities such as youth engagement, support for democracy and civil society, and economic prosperity.  The program will consist of a series of lectures, seminar discussions and presentations, and a broad assortment of practical, faculty- and mentor-led workshops.  The coursework and classroom activities will be complemented by community service activities, site visits, social and cultural activities, and homestays with American families to deepen participants’ experience of U.S. society during their exchange.  

During the program, participants also will have the opportunity to discuss other topics such as democratic practices, conflict resolution, problem solving, communication skills, critical thinking, tolerance and respect for diversity, youth leadership, team building, disinformation, and the media.  The program will explore how freedom of expression provides rights to and imposes responsibilities on citizens.  Upon their return home, participants will implement service projects in their communities and present an alumni project plan to a youth-serving or youth-centered organization in their home country.  These organizations may include U.S. Mission Youth Councils, American Spaces, and exchange alumni associations.

The program can accommodate persons with disabilities.

Applicants should have a strong interest in learning about diplomacy, the transatlantic relationship, the role of a free press in a democratic society, and public or community service.  They should have a strong demonstrated interest in communications, advocacy, debate, and or civic participation.  They should have the academic aptitude for a program of this nature and the personal qualities needed to be successful, including maturity, strong social skills, flexibility, and open-mindedness. English fluency is required and subject to testing, as throughout the program participants will need to fully understand lectures, actively participate in discussions, and read and write assignments in English.

It is important that applicants exhibit serious interest in pursuing leadership opportunities in Portugal, and demonstrate a genuine desire to learn first-hand about the United States, its people, society, and institutions. Participants will be expected to fully and seriously take part in all program components during the month, as well as in follow-up activities afterward in their home country.  In addition, participants should be ready to inform and educate Americans about the cultures and societies of their home countries in non-structured gatherings and in public presentations.

Note that participants will NOT be permitted to leave the program to visit relatives or friends in the United States and will not be able to arrive in the country early nor remain in the U.S. after the program closes.

The program is scheduled to take place from June 22-July 20, 2024, contingent upon public health status and the feasibility and safety of travel.  

All participant’s costs, including accident and sickness insurance, will be funded by the U.S. State Department, Bureau of Cultural and Educational Affairs, and the U.S. Embassy in Lisbon.  

Participants are not allowed to arrive in the U.S. prior to the start date of the program or to remain in the U.S. after its end date.  Violations of program rules, host institution rules, or local, state, or federal laws can be grounds for immediate dismissal from the program.  

Candidate Qualifications

– Portuguese citizenship;
 live in Portugal;
– be born between June 24, 2006, and June 24, 2008 (i.e., be 16, 17, or 18 years of age at the time of the program start);
– be highly proficient in English, as demonstrable in a personal interview or the results of a standardized test;
– be committed to remaining in high school or enrolling university in their home countries during autumn of 2024, following completion of the program;
– demonstrate strong leadership potential and interest in transatlantic relations and diplomacy;
– indicate a serious interest in learning about the United States;
– demonstrate a high level of academic achievement, as indicated by academic grades, awards, and teacher recommendations;
– demonstrate a commitment to and involvement in community and extracurricular activities;
– have had little or no prior U.S. study or travel experience in the United States;
– be mature, responsible, independent, confident, open-minded, tolerant, thoughtful and inquisitive;
– be willing and able to fully participate in an intensive summer program, with community service and educational travel;
– be comfortable with campus life, shared living accommodations, travel and interaction with a multinational, co-ed group of participants from across Europe and the United States;
– be comfortable engaging with the Americans they meet in the host communities;
– be able to adjust to cultural and social practices different from those of their home countries;
– be able to show proof of the COVID19 vaccination; and
– be eligible for a J-1 visa (which will be paid for by the U.S. State Department including travel to Lisbon for visa application).

Only complete applications submitted until midnight of February 15, 2024, will be considered. A complete application includes:

  • Submission of the application form, which includes providing personal and academic information, as well as writing two 200/250 essays which are a critical part of the application. You may wish to draft your essays outside of the form and paste them in when complete. Attention will be paid to spelling, grammar and content. The questions are:
    • Please tell us in 250 words or less, what qualifies you for this intercultural experience.
    • Describe in 200 words your future study or career plans.
  • Submission of a recommendation letter. Applicants should share the recommendation letter form link with their recommenders who will submit it directly to us.

All inquiries about the application process should be sent to lisbonbfscholars@state.gov