An initiative launched in 2013 by the U.S. Department of State, the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) aims to strengthen leadership development in Southeast Asia.

Beginning in the fall of 2015, and spanning over the course of the academic year, 250 YSEALI Academic Fellows will take part in the YSEALI student exchange program across the United States. Supported by U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA). Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative participants are among over 40,000 individuals participating in U.S. Department of State exchange programs each year. For more than sixty years, ECA has funded and supported programs that seek to promote mutual understanding and respect between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. Other ECA programs include the Fulbright Program and the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program. For more information about ECA programs, visit here.

Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative

YSEALI Fall 2017

The five-week Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative for Student Leaders on Entrepreneurship and Economic Development provides university student leaders residing in the following countries: Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam; with a transformative learning experience that deepens their knowledge and understanding of the United States while equipping them with entrepreneurial skills and knowledge of economic development to create sustainable solutions to problems in their communities and country.

These programs are designed for participants to:

  • learn how to use business techniques and entrepreneurial skills to address global and local challenges within economic development
  • develop their leadership and collective problem-solving skills and learn how to creatively apply these skills
  • deepen their understanding of the United States by exploring the principles of democracy and fundamental American values such as individual rights, freedom of expression, pluralism and tolerance, and volunteerism.

UConn/Brown Partnership

GTDI is pleased to partner with Brown University's Swearer Center, founded in 1986 as one of the first public service centers in the U.S.  Today, the Swearer Center works with more than 1,200 Brown students and 100+ community partners -- more than half of which are in the Greater Providence area. During the Center's 30-year history, it has connected students, faculty, and community partners through community engagement, engaged scholarship, and social innovation -- three key perspectives that are the foundations of the Center's work.

Each fall and spring, UConn and Brown will host YSEALI cohorts at their respective campuses in Connecticut and Rhode Island for the 4-week residency portion of the YSEALI program, during which the participants will work with their Academic Directors to develop their own project plans for social change.

UPEACE Partnership

upeaceGTDI is pleased to partner with the University for Peace (UPEACE), Centre for Executive and Professional Education on this program. Through the partnership with UPEACE, the program will offer a dynamic 9- week virtual learning environment in which students will learn about entrepreneurship, innovation, and social change while planning their social change projects. UPEACE uses a transformational pedagogical approach to educate future change makers, offering innovative learning experiences that are dynamic and engaging while inspiring students to have a positive impact in our interconnected world.  Students will access the UPEACE course prior to their arrival at UConn to begin working!

What is required of YSEALI participants?

Participants coming to UConn’s YSEALI program should have a strong interest in economic development and social entrepreneurship. During the program they will be expected to identify a social problem in their community or country, particularly one that they are passionate about solving, and develop a business plan for a social enterprise that will address an important aspect of it. After identifying the social problem during the first week at UConn, participants will turn to developing a mission statement, a marketing plan, a list of potential partners, a financial plan/budget, and lastly, a detailed explanation for scaling up their enterprise. During the final week of the UConn portion of the program, participants will be expected to put all aspects of their business plans into a unified document. Each participant will prepare and deliver a 10-minute presentation on their project venture idea to their peers and members of the UConn community. This activity provides an opportunity for participants to receive feedback and develop their public speaking skills.

Upon returning to their home countries participants will have a chance to update aspects of their business plans that require local knowledge. Approximately one month after leaving the U.S., they will have an opportunity to apply for up to $500 in project funding from GTDI to kick-start their social enterprise. Participants will receive feedback on their plans from the GTDI team, led by the Academic Director and instructors from UPEACE. To address any critiques, participants will be given the chance to submit their plan a second time and then if their business plans meet the criteria, they will receive UConn funding. The UPEACE online course and information learned at UConn will be available through the duration of the project development process. The Academic Director will work closely with participants in developing business plans for their social ventures during their time at UConn and upon their return to home countries.

YSEALI Program Materials:

Program Administrators:


This is a program of the U.S. Department of State, administered by the University of Connecticut.