The Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study (YES) Program is an innovative high school exchange program funded by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. This public diplomacy initiative builds bridges of international understanding, especially between Americans and people in countries with significant religious minorities populations.

The YES Program evolved out of a generalized recognition that public diplomacy efforts had been neglected in many countries around the world for many years and that the effects of this came into stark focus in the aftermath of the events of 11 September 2001.

AFS took a lead in rallying the exchange community and the Educational and Cultural Affairs Bureau of the U.S. Department of State to approach Congress with a coherent plan for support of meaningful opportunities for youth exchange as a key component of renewed commitment to building bridges between citizens of the U.S. and countries around the world.

The program officially launched in India in 2005 in hopes to expand communication between the people of the United States and India in order to promote mutual understanding and respect. Since then, over 600 Indian students have completed the YES program and now participate as alumni.

The YES program is administered in partnership with the U.S. Department of State by a consortium of non-profit organizations led by American Councils for International Education. In India, AFS USA manages the YES program in partnership with the local U.S. Embassy, Public Affairs Office.

Looking for more information on YES Program, please contact Nikhil Bhatnagar at nikhil.bhatnagar@afs.org

(APPLICATION OPEN FOR 2025-26)

YES students  reflect a wide range of socioeconomic, cultural, and religious affiliations within their countries, including people with disabilities.  YES participants are selected through an open, merit-based selection process in each country.

YES scholars are selected based on a variety of indicators, including an evaluation of their personal qualities, such as adaptability, leadership potential, and motivation for an intercultural experience. Recruiting organizations attempt to reach a wide audience within each country, embracing all of the ethnic, geographic, and socioeconomic diversity within the target countries.