Table of Contents

  1. General
  2. Eligibility
  3. Application
  4. Budget
  5. Work Plan


What is the difference between a hybrid and a virtual Reciprocal Exchange? 

Hybrid Reciprocal Exchange projects conduct in-person activities in the Fellowship Alumni Collaborator’s community with the U.S. professional participating virtually via Zoom or another platform.  Virtual Reciprocal Exchange projects take place entirely on a virtual platform such as Zoom or Microsoft Teams.  There should be no in-person activities.  Virtual projects are ideal for implementation in African countries with a high level of risk for in-person activities, or for activities that are easily conducted virtually. 

Does the Reciprocal Exchange support Fellowship Alumni to travel to the United States? 

No, the award supports the travel of U.S. professionals to African countries to continue collaborative work with Mandela Washington Fellowship Alumni on the continent.


What are the eligibility requirements for the Fellowship Alumni Collaborator?

Fellowship Alumni Collaborators must be considered Alumni in good standing of the Fellowship by the U.S. Department of State.  Fellowship Alumni may not be employees or immediate family members of employees of the U.S. Government.  Fellowship Alumni must reside in the host country and be present for the duration of the Reciprocal Exchange.

What are the eligibility requirements for the U.S. professional?

U.S. professionals must be U.S. citizens currently living in the United States.  U.S. professionals may not be employees of the U.S. Government (including a U.S. embassy, USAID, or other U.S. Government entity).  

Can a U.S. professional who previously received a Reciprocal Exchange be eligible to apply for a new one with a different Fellowship Alumni in a different country? 

Preference will be given to U.S. professionals and Fellowship Alumni who have not previously participated in a Reciprocal Exchange. 

Am I eligible to apply for a Reciprocal Exchange? I have done…

  • 2 in-person projects: Yes! You are eligible to apply for a virtual or hybrid Reciprocal Exchange.
  • 1 in-person, 1 hybrid/virtual project: Yes! You are eligible to apply for an in-person or a virtual or hybrid Reciprocal Exchange.
  • 2 virtual or hybrid projects: Yes! You are eligible to apply for an in-person or virtual or hybrid Reciprocal Exchange.

Are there any priority topic areas that the U.S. Department of State and IREX would like to fund this year? 

Please refer to the application criteria included in the announcement.  Rather than indicating priority areas, the application should demonstrate the impact of the project both in the Fellowship Alumni’s country and the U.S. professional’s community in the United States.  


Can I access the application from my phone or tablet?

Yes!  You can access the application from any device that is connected to the internet.  The application is mobile-friendly, so it is easy to apply from your phone or tablet.  Please remember to submit all required attachments with your application. 

I am unable to move past the application guidelines section.  How do I apply? 

Please review the eligibility requirements.  The application will not let you proceed unless you meet the general requirements and have fully completed the section.  Any question with a red asterisk is required and must be completed before you can progress with the application. 

My U.S. partner submitted an application; is our application complete?

No, both the U.S. professional(s) and the Fellowship Alumni Collaborator must submit an application form for it to be considered complete.  While similar, the U.S. professional and Alumni Collaborator applications require different answers in some sections.

After I complete and submit my application, can I go back in and make changes or add supplemental materials at a later date? 

No, once you have submitted your application, you can no longer add any additional information or make any changes.  All information and documents should be uploaded prior to final submission. 

I have a physical disability or other special need, and I require another person’s assistance to complete my application.  Is this alright? 

Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to apply for the Reciprocal Exchange component.  Applicants with physical disabilities or special needs who require another person’s assistance to complete an application may do so.  However, the thoughts, ideas, and content of your application must be your own.  While you should work together with the U.S. professional or Fellowship Alumni Collaborator on your application, you may not collaborate with the person assisting you.

Can I submit a paper copy of the Reciprocal Exchange application?

No, you must submit your application through the online application system.  Paper applications or applications sent via email attachment will not be accepted.

When can applicants expect to receive notification on the status of their application?

Applicants will be notified of their selection status 6-8 weeks after the deadline.


Can multiple U.S. professionals apply as a group? 

Yes, multiple U.S. professionals can apply as a group for a Reciprocal Exchange.  The maximum award for hybrid and virtual Reciprocal Exchange projects, regardless of the number of Participants, is $3,000.  Each U.S. applicant for an in-person Reciprocal Exchange is eligible for up to $5,000.  Proposals with multiple applicants should consider this when formulating their budget.

Can a U.S. professional who wishes to partner with multiple Fellowship Alumni in different countries for the same or similar projects apply for more than one award, so as to establish a support network? 

The U.S. applicant can propose partnering with Fellowship Alumni in different countries on the same project, but will only be eligible for one award at the standard maximum funding level of up to $3,000 for virtual and hybrid projects, or up to $5,000 per U.S. professional for in-person projects.  If one U.S. professional submits multiple applications with multiple Fellowship Alumni, only one project will be selected, if it meets all requirements.

My proposal has extra costs.  Will IREX/the U.S. Department of State be able to provide additional funding for these costs?

No – up to $3,000 for virtual and hybrid projects and up to $5,000 per U.S. professional for in-person projects may be awarded to help cover approved program-related costs.  Fellowship Alumni and U.S. professionals will be responsible for covering additional costs and indicating these in the budget cost-share column (H). 

How are funds disbursed? 

Funds may be disbursed to the U.S. professional or the Fellowship Alumni Collaborator for hybrid and virtual projects, and will be disbursed to the U.S. professional for in-person projects.  Eighty (80) percent of the award will be disbursed prior to implementation, upon submission of required documents.  The remaining twenty (20) percent of the award will be disbursed upon completion of the exchange and the submission of additional required documents within 30 days of the project’s completion.  All other costs associated with the exchange must be funded by the Fellowship Alumni Collaborator and/or U.S. professional.

Are there any restrictions on how funds can be used for this program? 

Yes, there are restrictions.  All air travel being paid for with Reciprocal Exchange Award funds must be Fly America compliant, and should be the most cost effective, economy-class airfare.  Participants must book their travel and make any itinerary adjustments through IREX’s preferred travel agency, Corporate Travel Partners (CTP), to ensure Fly America compliance.  Costs for participant meals, lodging, and incidental expenses may not exceed rates established by the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA).  Funds may not be used to pay administrative or indirect costs of the project, such as the U.S. professional or Fellowship Alumni Collaborator’s salary.  U.S. Government funding may not pay for alcohol and other entertainment expenses such as tourism.  Please see the guidelines listed in the budget template for additional information about restricted costs.

Do travel costs include visa-related expenses?

Participants must use IREX’s preferred visa procurement service, DMS Visa International, to procure their visas for travel unless it is impossible to do so.  IREX will cover the cost of this service as well as the visa fee itself.  Visa costs do not need to be included as a line item in the budget.  Please note that prospective travelers to Nigeria may not be able to use DMS Visa International for their visa procurement.  Please see the budget template and the Nigerian Embassy’s website for more information.

Work Plan

What does the work plan need to include? 

U.S. professionals and Fellowship Alumni must collaborate on the submitted work plan.  While your initial work plan may be broad, please provide at minimum your anticipated schedule and a general idea of content for each specific activity.  Work plans should also include information about what activities Participants and Fellowship Alumni will undertake before and after Reciprocal Exchange implementation to ensure that your project will be successful and will have an impact within both the U.S. professional’s community in the United States and the Fellowship Alumni Collaborator’s community in Africa.  Add rows if necessary so that every activity, including those on the same day, is included in the plan.  Please see the guidelines listed in the work plan template for more information.

How detailed does the work plan need to be? 

Application work plans are expected to be broad, but please try to be as specific as possible on the following items: 

  • Locations of activities (for hybrid and in-person Reciprocal Exchanges)
    • This is important so the U.S. embassies in the country you are applying for can confirm that the locations are safe for in-person activities. 
  • COVID-19 regulations and steps your team will take to ensure participants remain safe (for hybrid and in-person Reciprocal Exchanges).  This may include: 
    • Capacity limits for indoor and outdoor activities 
    • Use of personal protective equipment (PPE) 
    • Social distancing precautions 
    • Local testing or vaccine requirements 
  • Activity types (meetings, lectures, trainings, film screenings, etc.) 
  • Activity participants and anticipated numbers of participants (university undergraduates, elementary school teachers, local filmmakers, conference attendees, rural hospital staff, etc.) 
  • Activity outcomes (for the implementation period only
    • Describe what participants will take away from each activity (increased knowledge about a topic, new skill, etc.) 

Is there a required duration for the exchange?

Reciprocal Exchange implementation periods should be fewer than four weeks.