What is the Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study Program?

The Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study (YES) program was established in October, 2002. The Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. Department of State, along with the U.S. exchange community, recognized the importance of youth exchange as a key component to building bridges between citizens of the United States and countries around the world, particularly those with significant Muslim populations.

The program is funded by the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational & Cultural Affairs (ECA) to provide scholarships for high school students from countries with significant Muslim populations to study for one academic year in the United States. YES students serve as “youth ambassadors” of their home country, promoting mutual understanding by forming lasting relationships with their host families and communities. Participants live with a host family, attend an American high school, acquire leadership skills, and engage in activities to learn about U.S. society and values; they also help educate Americans about their home country and culture.

The program officially launched in Kenya in 2008 in hopes to expand communication between the people of the United States and Kenya in order to promote mutual understanding and respect. Since then, over 220 Kenyan 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 Kenya, AFS Kenya – Organization For Intercultural Education manages the YES program in partnership with the local U.S. Embassy, Public Affairs Office.


Applications Now Open!

Application for the 2022/2023 cycle of the YES Program are now open and will close on September 30, 2021.


Eligibility Requirements

  • Be a Kenyan-born citizen
  • Be 15-17 years old as at August 2022, being born no earlier than 15 January 2005
    and no later than 15 August 2007.
  • Be enrolled in a Kenyan High School
  • Maintain an average grade of B, with no failing grades in individual subjects*
  • Be engaged in co-curricular activities and/or leadership positions in school

Apply Now

Access the pre-application form below. Fill it and submit it in the form below, attaching all required documents, to reach us on or before Thursday September 30, 2021 at 2359 hrs EAT.

YES 2022-2023 Pre-Application Form

YES 2022/23 Pre-Application

  • Date Format: DD slash MM slash YYYY
  • Which high school do you attend?
    Select the region closest to where you live. (Your hometown)
  • Drop files here or
    Scan and upload your filled Pre-application Form
  • Upload a copy of your birth certificate.
  • Drop files here or
    Upload three latest end of year report cards i.e 2019, 2020/21 and 2021/22 school years.
  • Upload a copy of your childhood immunization card
  • Accepted file types: pdf, doc, docx, jpg, jpeg.
    Write an essay of between 80 to 100 words on ‘’ Why I am interested in the Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study Program’’

FAQs for Natural Parents

Studying abroad in high school is an exciting journey for both you and your child. We have compiled the information below to help answer some of the questions you may have about the YES program experience. For further information, please e-mail [email protected]

YES participants are placed in volunteer host family homes and into host schools in the United States by established and reputable placement organizations that have competitively been awarded grants by the U.S. Department of State to implement the placement portion of the YES program. While on the program, your child will have regular contact with a trained coordinator in his or her community who will provide support, assistance, and guidance, and who will be in regular contact with the placement organization’s national headquarters.

As the consortium lead on the grant for YES operations, also competitively awarded by the U.S. Department of State, American Councils has a national office in Washington, DC, which cooperates with all placement organizations nationwide and with all overseas recruiting offices. Each country participating in the YES program has an in-country office with at least one permanent employee in each YES country. These staff, who are the main contacts for the parents of YES students, in turn communicate with all organizations placing YES students in host communities.