Meet the Rapid Response Winners

We are excited to announce the winners of the Citizen Diplomacy Action Fund Rapid Response to the Novel Coronavirus competition!

The U.S. Department of State has been working tirelessly to address the coronavirus pandemic. In mid-April, we invited U.S. citizen alumni of all U.S. government-sponsored exchange programs to apply for a rapid response grant to address issues related to the COVID-19 crisis. These Rapid Response grants ranged from $500 to $10,000.

Out of hundreds of entries, 34 winning projects were chosen. These projects, noted below, will increase the U.S. government's investment in international exchanges by supporting public service projects and using the skills and knowledge of U.S. citizen alumni, who traveled abroad on U.S. government-funded exchange programs.

“We are thrilled that our U.S. alumni are using the skills and knowledge they gained during their exchange programs overseas to join the worldwide effort against COVID-19,” said Marie Royce, Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs at the U.S. Department of State. “These Citizen Diplomacy Action Fund public service projects uplift communities and provide them with resources and education needed to fight the pandemic.”

We look forward to sharing the progress of alumni from the winning teams as they implement these innovative projects in cities and towns across the United States, and virtually with international partners.

The Citizen Diplomacy Action Fund is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) and implemented in partnership with the Partners of the Americas. Visit for more information.

Citizen Diplomacy Action Fund Rapid Response Winners

Arts Justice L.A. - Project Superhero will provide an at-home arts curriculum and supplies kit to underserved youth in the Los Angeles area. The project will raise awareness about the importance of the arts and will highlight a practical solution to enabling arts in the home by providing a month-long project and supplies that youth will be able to continue to use for additional arts exploration, education, and empowerment. (Alumni team: Fulbright English Teaching Assistant Program)

Battery Dance TV will connect communities through its weekly virtual Sunday programming composed of an interview with American and foreign diplomats, international arts leaders and dance professionals, followed by international dance classes and international guest artist solos. The project will spread insight and empathy cross-culturally among viewers in over 112 countries. (Alumni team: Arts Envoy; Fulbright Specialist Program; Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program)

Bi-National Arts in the time of COVID-19 will address the need for arts education in rural Arizona and Mexico by hosting two virtual performances for participants to gain knowledge of vocal technique through individual vocal tutoring within a bi-national context. The project will principally reach youth and adults in the Bisbee/Naco area of Arizona and in the Naco area of Sonora, MX. (Alumni team: Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program)

Black Girls Achieve will provide black girls in New York with the tools and skills needed to thrive during and after the pandemic. The project will encourage and educate girls on topics such as community advocacy, financial literacy, and mental health. Ultimately, the project will empower the girls during a time that is psychologically straining and to provide them with events and programs that will foster positive youth development. (Alumni team: Fulbright U.S. Student Program)

Blakwater Exchange Program (BXP) is a globally connected virtual exchange and youth music development program that combines the efforts of educators, musicians, and social activists to create online-based curricula that amplifies arts and education of the African diaspora. The project will fill the gap of arts education and creative outlets for students in Baltimore through virtual development programs and collaborative music projects that reflect the stories of Baltimore-based musicians of African and Afro-Latin descent. (Alumni team: OneBeat Global Music Diplomacy Program)

Building Resilience During a Global Crisis will combat the academic and emotional challenges brought on by COVID-19 in the Philippines and in Rhode Island. The project will address the needs of approximately 850 students, spread out between 4 different schools, who are distanced learning with little or no access to technology. The project supports students by furnishing the necessary low-tech tools to continue their education and to help them develop the courage and strength to move forward with their lives. (Alumni team: Fulbright Teachers for Global Classrooms)

Communication for COVID-19 Prevention in Kenya will provide concrete, locally tailored guidance on both prevention and treatment of COVID-19 to assure residents that their individual preventative activities save lives. The project will reach approximately 40,000 residents in Korogocho through radio shows, 20,000 through social media users, 10,000 over the age of 50 for weekly public health messaging, and 3,500 vulnerable households through cloth face mask distributions. (Alumni team: Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program)

Community Building Through Digital Literacy will maintain school communities that may have lost face-to-face interaction because of the pandemic and further build bridges to similar communities in other countries. The project will reach 10-12 teachers and between 30-60 students from high schools and universities. Teacher and student participants will be developing their digital literacy skills, social-emotional awareness and intelligence, intercultural communication skills, and their English speaking and listening skills through digital platforms. (Alumni team: English Language Fellow Program)

Community Connection will coordinate with Western Youth Network (WYN) in reversing the traumatic effects of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) caused and exacerbated by COVID-19. Through caring adult mentorship, professional counseling, and resilience-building strategies of art therapy, the project will reach 70 youth enrolled in WYN’s mentoring program of ages 6-17, 70 adult mentors also benefiting from the creation of art, and approximately 100 elderly people will benefit from the gift of the artwork. (Alumni team: Mandela Fellows Reciprocal Exchange Program)

Community Leader Fellowship for Eastern VA Youth will empower and equip 20 youth (ages 18-20) from communities at disproportionate risk for the impacts of COVID-19 to serve as community leaders and change agents. The program will start with two weeks of leadership development training. Subsequently, each fellow will design a community micro-project that improves some aspect of individual or community health and positively impacts at least 5 people in their home or community. (Alumni team: Fulbright U.S. Student Program)

Community Resilience for Returned Tsotsil Migrants will promote resilience in Tsotsil families and their communities during the outbreak and recovery stages of the COVID-19 crisis through a virtual health campaign, remote educational program, and economic empowerment, emphasizing the support of existing small businesses run by Tsotsil women. The project will reach children and adults from Tsotsil communities in 5 municipalities in the highland region of Chiapas. (Alumni team: Fulbright U.S. Student Program)

Cost-Free Career Programs for High School Students will support high school students from under-resourced communities around the DC metro area by offering cost-free career exploration programs, so that their personal development and career exploration is not stunted by COVID-19. (Alumni team: Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program)

COVID-19 Research-Based Theatre will use research-based theatre to creatively disseminate emerging peer-reviewed public health research on health, behavior, and societal aspects of COVID-19 to audiences outside of the research community, including lay audiences and policymakers. (Alumni team: Fulbright English Teaching Assistant Program)

Creating for Understanding COVID-19 in Kosovo will create local creative contemporaneous documentation, including a coloring book and a digital exhibition, of this moment to capture a relevant and relatable historical record of COVID-19 for posterity. The project in Albanian and English will utilize visual storytelling to increase understanding of COVID-19's effects on everyday life among ordinary people in Kosovo for current and future generations. (Alumni team: Fulbright English Teaching Assistant Program; Peace Corps; Kosovo Transformational Leadership Program)

Cypher Reconnect will address the current disconnect in the dance community due to COVID-19 by providing a platform that allows dancers to reconnect, educate, and compete. This will benefit student collaborators and artist educators by strengthening relationships between everyone through collaborating and learning from each other. This project will give 1,000 dancers, educators, and students worldwide the tools they need to build and create not only during this pandemic but well into the future. (Alumni team: Next Level)

Empowering the Indigenous Artists of the Xingu will bridge the gap between indigenous artists in the Xingu Park and urban centers during COVID-19. The project will benefit six indigenous artists of a specific village, Aldeia Kaupüna, by providing resources to connect them to the world through a virtual capacity, teaching necessary skills to promote their art online, and ultimately generating a source of continuous income regardless of location. (Alumni team: Fulbright U.S. Student Program)

Equitable Dinners: Lift Every Voice is a six-month, free, virtual conversation series about race and equity through the lens of COVID-19, including 2,000 people that represent a cross-section of Atlanta, in terms of race/ethnicity, age, gender-identity, and home zip code. The project will build community, increase understanding and empathy for the experience of people of color, heighten equity awareness, and activate anti-racist sentiment and activities. (Alumni team: Congress-Budenstag Youth Exchange)

Facemask Sewing Circle for Rarámuri Women will bolster Rarámuri pride and disseminate public health information by supporting seamstresses in making facemasks using the same printed cotton fabric they use for their traditional dresses. Through this programming, Rarámuri women will come away empowered with knowledge delivered verbally in Rarámuri and through an infographic. (Alumni team: Fulbright U.S. Student Program)

Finances for the Future from A-Z will encourage and support students during the financial challenges of COVID-19 and will provide an opportunity to demonstrate positive growth and sustainability. As such, the focus of the community engagement and resilience themed project is financial literacy which will be executed through a webinar series. The project will reach 200 participants of half undergraduate students and half high school students in Greensboro, NC. (Alumni team: Fulbright U.S. Student Program)

Gender-based Violence and Disability, COVID-19 will provide emergency services and support to keep women and girls with disabilities safe during a heightened period of gender-based violence due to the COVID-19 pandemic in Botswana. The project provides a rapid call and text message system available to women and girls with disabilities as well as collects data to advocate and lobby for better social care and support services. (Alumni team: Mandela Washington Fellowship Reciprocal Exchange Program)

Global Exchange programs Post Pandemic: Conference will bring together professionals in the global exchange sector from across the world to learn from each other about how they are shifting to address the challenges instigated by the global pandemic. Specifically, the project focuses on current and future collaboration to fill the gaps in global connection by creating opportunities for intentional virtual networking and partnership building as well as collecting and curating best practices, resources, and tools to create a guide for all global exchange organizations. (Alumni team: Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative)

Global Family Systems & Psychosocial Resilience will work with systemic family focused mental health and psychosocial support professionals, students, and trainees across communities in the U.S. and Sri Lanka, as well as those of partners in Europe, Middle East/North Africa, East Africa, North America and Central and South America, to develop and distribute open-access guest expert panels focusing on family psychosocial resilience during the pandemic. The project will address the ongoing challenge of training and supporting mental health professionals to work effectively and sustainably with families on issues of psychosocial resilience. (Alumni team: Fulbright U.S. Scholar; Fulbright Visiting Scholar Program; Peace Corps)

Increasing COVID Response for Nigerian Youth will fill the gap of child mental health services by providing virtual therapy for vulnerable youth located in Ibadan, Nigeria as a response to the stress and depression that stems from the fear of COVID-19 and its disruption of their normal routines and social interactions. The project aims to help children process their emotional and mental trauma/stress as well as create a broader awareness of children’s experiences during COVID-19. (Alumni team: Fulbright U.S. Student Program; Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program)

Kalendari INEZA will build community resilience and public health literacy, raise awareness around communicable diseases, and initiate practices of physical and mental health self-care, specifically targeting the prevention of COVID-19 and limiting its spread in the Musha Sector of Rwanda. By working with existing community socio-economic groups, the project will create a public health campaign using calendars that contain COVID-19 public health messages for each month. (Alumni team: Mandela Washington Reciprocal Exchange)

Media literacy for students; Lessons from COVID-19 will support middle and high school students by providing training and hands-on activities to better discern fact from fiction online. Activities will cover topics such as fact finding and checking; evaluating information for bias; analyzing partisan COVID-19 coverage; critiquing COVID-19-specific narratives. By the conclusion of the project, students will demonstrate their mastery of media literacy by producing both a magazine and a podcast. (Alumni team: Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program)

Mock Trial Media Literacy, Well Being, Resiliency will foster the ability to think critically through issues, evaluate the tidal wave of output, evaluate sources, and understand the scientific process to ensure democratic participation among under-served communities and university/high school students in Brazil and the DC area. As such, a three-module online Mock Trial (MT) will be used as a tool to address issues of resiliency, well-being, media literacy, and democratic principles. (Alumni team: Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program)

National Student Campaign for Education Equity will train 500 high school students across the country to lead campaigns to advocate their school boards and local and state governments for transparency and equitable policies to mitigate the national education crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The project will empower students to engage in the democratic process to mitigate the effects of coronavirus on equal access to education and opportunity. (Alumni team: Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program; Fulbright English Teaching Assistant Program)

Our Farm 2 Your Table will connect farming communities in the United States and India with consumer communities in other countries. The project aims to help bridge farmers and consumers through multimedia storytelling about the ongoing efforts to deliver food, fiber, and wood to the world. Honest stories from agricultural workers in India and the U.S. will help build confidence in farmers and patience in consumers when they see everyone working toward the same end. (Alumni team: Fulbright Specialist Program)

Pangea: Hip-Hop Heals Compilation speaks directly to how artists from around the world are coping and banding together in unique and innovative ways to connect during the COVID-19 pandemic. The music carries themes of commonality and how we are all going through similar experiences, demonstrating resilience and optimism through music and art. This project anticipates reaching 12,000-20,000 young aspiring artists, musicians, dancers, community organizers, youth advocates, and cultural workers. (Alumni team: Next Level)

Poetry is like Bread emphasizes the importance of art and culture in society by utilizing the passion and talents of poets and artists to bring attention to what they love – their neighborhoods and the restaurants they frequented prior to COVID-19. When New York City reopens, restaurants, arts, and cultural centers will struggle for some time to return to a level of normalcy. This project will produce dynamic programs and videos to bring attention to this and put artists to work. (Alumni team: American Arts Incubator Program; International Writing Program)

Promotion of Women's Educational Rights (POWER) will support young women to continue their education and develop a strong career path for their future. To avoid widening the already existing gender gap in Azerbaijani education, the project is critical and will provide a positive online platform that actively encourages, creates content, and follows up with young women while they pursue education from home. (Alumni team: Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program; Fulbright English Teaching Assistant Program)

Reducing Risks to Children in Detention During COV will protect 850 youth in detention centers in Mexico. The project will improve access to education and media literacy for youth, staff, and families, as well as improve community resilience for communities with youth in detention during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Alumni team: Fulbright U.S. English Teaching Assistant; Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program; Fulbright U.S. Student Program)

Relevant, Responsive & Fun Family Literacy Toolkits will mediate and mitigate below-grade level reading by focusing on student achievement through family engagement among Asheville, North Carolina’s most vulnerable children, youth, and their families from select underrepresented communities. The project will adopt an equity and inclusion lens where students and families benefit from concrete, tangible books and learning support from two, reading-based community non-profit organizations. (Alumni team: Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program)

ひろ Project (Hiro Project) will focus on the lack of usable masks and deficiency in hygiene awareness, regarding reopening schools in Hofu, Japan. The project will protect the children of the Hofu community by providing a virtual COVID-19 educational lecture for all faculty in the district, distributing age appropriate learning guides to all elementary and junior high schools in the district, and allocating emergency mask kits to the schools. (Alumni team: Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program)


Do you have questions about this competition?

Interested in applying for a future Citizen Diplomacy Action Fund grant? Catch up on all you need to know about the application process, proposal writing tips, and important eligibility requirements here.

Click here to see a page of Frequently Asked Questions.

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Citizen Diplomacy Action Fund is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State and implemented by Partners of the Americas in partnership with the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.