BOLD Academic Fellowships Program 2022

Deadline: April 15, 2022

The Public Diplomacy Section (PDS) of the U.S. Embassy in Belgrade announces an open competition for organizations to submit applications for the BOLD Academic Fellowship Program.

The BOLD (Balkanski omladinski lideri, Young Balkan Leaders in English) network is a project of PDS that seeks to develop the leadership capacity of young Serbians by empowering them to implement projects for positive change in their communities in two thematic areas: civic engagement and economic development.  Anyone age 18-35 in Serbia can join the BOLD network where members have access to three main types of competitive opportunities:

  1. BOLD Academic Fellowships: Two in-depth leadership training experiences in the United States for 5-6 weeks, one on each BOLD theme.
  2. BOLD Workshops: Two workshops, one week to 10 days long, on leadership and project management, each on one of the BOLD themes.
  3. BOLD Small Grant Competition: An annual competition, open to all BOLD members, for funds up to $15,000 to implement projects in the areas of the BOLD themes over the course of a year.

Program Objectives:

The BOLD Academic Fellowship Program consists of two fellowships to take place in the United States for 5-6 weeks each, one on the theme of civic engagement and one on the theme of economic developmentApplicants may propose implementation of either one of the fellowships, OR implementation of two fellowships.  If the proposal is for one fellowship, please indicate in box “c” of the application form if the theme will be civic engagement or economic development.  Each fellowship should be both academic and practical in nature, approximately 5-6 weeks in length, and ideally include a residency at a U.S. academic institution with a significant component of experiential learning, including community service, in the community or in another location.  Ideally, each institute should also incorporate a homestay experience as part of the program.

The primary outcome desired by PDS is for fellows, either individually or in groups, upon their return to Serbia, to design a civic or economic project to be implemented in their communities over the course of the year.  By the end of the fellowship, they should have a complete draft of a project proposal or business plan, which will be competitive for funding from the Embassy or other donors. The academic component in the United States should include group discussions, experiential learning activities, and exercises that focus on the best practices, leading research, and most influential ideas and models pertaining to the theme of the fellowship. The experiential learning component should include substantive and participatory community activities related to the theme of the fellowship. Where possible, a particular focus on the impact of not-for-profit organizations and/or social enterprises should be integrated into the program.

Both components of each fellowship should teach leadership skills and provide the necessary knowledge and experience for students to implement their follow-on projects in Serbia, including, but not limited to teambuilding, collective problem-solving, effective communication, appreciation of diversity, and management skills. In accordance with the Executive Order on Advancing Racial Equity and Underserved Communities, proposals should demonstrate how the program advances equity with respect to race, ethnicity, religion, income, geography, gender identity, sexual orientation, and disability. The proposal should also demonstrate how the program will further engagement in underserved communities and with individuals from underserved communities. Proposals should demonstrate how addressing racial equity and underserved communities will enhance the program’s goals and objectives, as well as the experience of participants.

In light of social distancing measures, and to limit the spread of COVID-19, we welcome proposals that utilize video conferencing, distance learning tools, etc.  If your proposal includes in-person activities, please consider the inclusion of contingency plans, just in case the health situation requires that social distancing measures be implemented during the grant period.  How might you switch your project from an in-person to a virtual format? If you are successful in securing PDS funding to launch your project, you will be expected to publicize your activities, including through social media and/or traditional press outlets; and highlight U.S. Embassy support for your activity, with our logo included on project-related materials.

Program Themes:

  • CIVIC ENGAGEMENT. This fellowship should introduce participants to the concept of civic engagement in the United States as a means of improving communities and the institutions and services of government and provide them with the skills to implement projects as civic leaders themselves. An understanding of civic engagement and the civil society sector and its development in the United States should be accompanied by the opportunity to apply the U.S. experience to the Serbian context. The academic program should define civic engagement, examine its development in the United States, and explore topics such as citizenship in democracy, community building, economic development, grassroots activism, political leadership, and volunteerism in the modern age.Proposals should demonstrate an ability to provide content on a variety of sub-themes in which fellows may already have a specific interest or to which they may be directed as a project area.  Some sub-themes may include, but are not limited to civil rights and protections, public health, education, environmental conservation, ethics, leadership, or free media.  Academic sessions should be complemented with a community-based experiential learning component that serves two purposes.  Hands-on sessions or workshops designed to build skills in the topics mentioned above should assist participants in developing innovative and practical plans for projects they will implement upon their return to Serbia.  In addition, to promote the idea of leadership rooted in community service, participants should also be required to engage in service learning.
  • ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT.  This fellowship should provide participants with an overview of entrepreneurial approaches by introducing challenges and successes of U.S. entrepreneurial models, including social enterprises, the leadership role of businesses in democratic societies, and women’s economic empowerment. An understanding of the U.S. entrepreneurial ecosystem should be accompanied by a strong focus on how to apply lessons learned in the Serbian context. Topics may include, but are not limited to, organizational development and management, the basics of starting and running a small business, market research and risk analysis, innovation, strategic business planning, and corporate social responsibility. Academic sessions should be complemented with a community-based experiential learning component that serves two purposes: to build skills and expose participants to the American entrepreneurial ecosystem.  Hands-on sessions or workshops designed to build skills in the topics mentioned above should assist participants in developing entrepreneurial ideas in the form of a business plan and a pitch, and a concrete action plan to implement toward starting a business.  In addition, to promote the idea of leadership rooted in community service, participants should also be required to engage in service learning.

Participants and Audiences:

Participants or primary audiences for BOLD Academic Fellowships should be Serbian undergraduate students, age 18-25, from across Serbia.  Each fellowship should consist of at least 10 participants traveling to the United States.

Information Session

PDS will hold a virtual information session on February 23, 2022, at 16:00 (4 pm) CET to discuss this funding opportunity and to answer questions from potential applicants.  Please contact PDS at BOLDSerbia@state.gov for details.

For all the information and detailed instructions on how to apply, please download and read BOLD Academic Fellowships Notice of Funding Opportunity 2022. Please follow all instructions below carefully. Proposals that do not meet the requirements of this announcement or fail to comply with the stated requirements will be ineligible.