Domestic Capacity Building Initiatives

The Capacity Building Program for U.S. Study Abroad, also known as the IDEAS Program (Increase and Diversify Education Abroad for U.S. Students), is designed to increase and diversify American student mobility in support of U.S. foreign policy goals. It is imperative that the next generation of leaders – American students of all backgrounds – engage internationally to foster mutual understanding and develop critical skills in support of U.S. national security and economic competitiveness. The program expands the institutional capacity of U.S. higher education institutions (HEIs) to increase and/or diversify U.S. student mobility abroad and achieves this through two main components. The IDEAS Program small grants competition awards up to $35,000 to accredited U.S. HEIs to create, expand, and/or diversify their U.S. study abroad programs. The IDEAS Program also offers both virtual and in-person trainings and resources to expand capacity in the wider U.S. study abroad community.  

The IDEAS Program small grants competition and capacity building activities are open to all accredited U.S. colleges and universities. The program seeks to engage the full diversity of U.S. higher education, including community colleges and Minority Serving Institutions. The IDEAS Program is a program of the U.S. Department of State with funding provided by the U.S. Government and supported in its implementation by World Learning.

Small Grants Competition

The IDEAS Program grants competition is open to U.S. higher education institutions that have a broad range of capacity to administer study abroad programs. Institutions that currently have no or limited experience administering study abroad programs as well as those with established study abroad programs are eligible to apply for funding.

The IDEAS Program looks for creative and innovative project ideas to create, expand, and/or diversify study abroad programming at U.S. colleges and universities. HEIs can receive up to $35,000 through the grant competition. Examples of projects may include:

  • Create a faculty-led study abroad program,
  • Create a new study abroad position at higher education institutions,
  • Support minority student participation in study abroad,
  • Provide resources for students with disabilities to study abroad,
  • Create programming for students in underrepresented majors,
  • Form relationships with universities in a wide variety of international locations
  • Focus study abroad programs around U.S. Foreign Policy Goals such as cybersecurity, entrepreneurship, human rights, food security, public health, etc.

The 2019 small grants competition awarded 22 U.S. HEIs with grants of up to $35,000 in May 2019. Please find a description of the 22 projects here. To learn more about past IDEAS Program grant recipients, please read about our 2017 grant recipients, and 2016 grant recipients.

IDEAS Program Initiatives

New for 2019! The IDEAS Program will also offer study abroad representatives from U.S. colleges and universities with opportunities to participate in a series of study abroad capacity building activities, both virtual and in-person, to help create, expand, or diversify their study abroad programs.

Registration is currently open for our in-person IDEAS Incubator workshops in 2020. These one-day, in-person, free events will be hosted by U.S. higher education institutions across the United States. Study abroad stakeholders interested increasing and diversifying study abroad opportunities for U.S. students at their U.S. higher education institution are invited to register to attend.

For more information on the IDEAS Program, please visit