A Digital Path to Entrepreneurship and Innovation for Latin America

The ECA Professional Fellowship was for sure one of the best experiences in my life, and I learned so much from it! My income, through the blog, has more than doubled since I returned.

Elaine Miranda Vela, founder, Plata con Platica personal finance site

A Digital Path to Entrepreneurship and Innovation for Latin America is creating a network of journalists, technologists and media entrepreneurs across the region.

Laura Rojas Aponte interviews a woman in New York City as part of her fellowship with Fusion’s podcast team in fall 2017. Photo courtesy of Laura Rojas Aponte.
Laura Rojas Aponte interviews a woman in New York City as part of her fellowship. Photo courtesy of Laura Rojas Aponte

This network is harnessing the power of digital tools to create sustainable news businesses that provide news and information in the public interest. 

Since 2015, ICFJ has brought more than 80 Latin American journalists, entrepreneurs, technologists and digital media experts to train and work at media organizations throughout the United States. Nearly 30 U.S. media hosts have visited Guatemala, Nicaragua, Honduras, Colombia and Brazil to expand their cross-border collaborations.

Latin American fellows are placed with digital-first media organizations, the digital teams of traditional media and innovative start-ups. Hosts so far have included the Los Angeles Times, Mother Jones, AJ+, Fusion, Splash Media and the Huffington Post. The goal is for participants to launch digital media products in their own countries or develop business models to make existing projects more sustainable.

During the program, participants have launched or improved projects including:

  • An online investigative outlet in Colombia
  • A popular personal finance blog in Nicaragua
  • An LGBT community network which was founded in collaboration with multiple fellows in Colombia
  • A new platform, called Floods Alerts, which sends messages to citizens endangered by floods in the Amazonian cities of Brazil.

The most valuable aspect of the trip was meeting all the journalists, connecting with them and seeing the amazing work they are doing during a time of political chaos.

Corrie MacLaggan, Texas Tribune, who traveled to Brazil as part of the exchange. 

About the Fellowship

In 2018, ICFJ is bringing 36 new Professional Fellows from 12 countries: Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama and Peru. ICFJ is also sending 12 additional U.S. hosts to Latin America for two-week study tours.

Fellows participate in a six-week U.S. program anchored by four full weeks of professional attachments at the host institutions. The program pairs participants with U.S. hosts across the country at digital communications firms, startup incubators and cutting-edge digital newsrooms that are good matches for the visiting journalists’ backgrounds and skills. The program begins with ICFJ-led orientation in Washington, D.C.,  where fellows visit digital media organizations, receive hands-on training on digital tools and techniques and workshop their digital media project proposals with media entrepreneurs. 

During the final week of the U.S. visit, fellows participate in the Professional Fellows Congress in Washington, D.C. The Congress connects the participants with other Professional Fellows from around the globe while helping them continue to hone their leadership and entrepreneurial skill sets.

This program will also spotlight the United States’ diversity and culture by immersing the fellows in their host communities through homestay experiences. 

A Digital Path to Entrepreneurship and Innovation for Latin America is part of the Professional Fellows Program of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Exchange and Cultural Affairs.  

Apply to the Fellowship

Although we are no longer accepting applications for the spring 2018 program, we will begin accepting applications for the fall 2018 program in the spring of 2018.

Selection will be based on professional qualifications, relevant experience, leadership potential and commitment to enhancing mutual understanding among different countries. Participants must be fluent in English. The program is open to young professionals and emerging leaders, ages 25-40. Please note that only applicants from the 12 eligible countries listed above will be considered. Participants with disabilities will be accommodated during the program and are encouraged to apply.

For more information on eligibility requirements, please click here to read the program FAQ.

Applications for this program will reopen in the spring of 2018 for the fall program.

Program dates for spring 2018 Latin American fellows:

Recruitment of fellows: Fall 2017

Selection of fellows: Winter 2018

Arrival in the United States: April 23, 2018

Orientation: April 24-April 28, 2018

Attachment phase: April 29-May 28, 2018

Travel to Washington, D.C.: May 29, 2018

Professional Fellows Congress: May 30 – June 1, 2018

Depart the United States: June 2, 2018

Program dates for fall 2018 Latin American fellows:

Recruitment of fellows: Spring 2018

Selection of fellows: Summer 2018

Arrival in United States: October 8, 2018

Orientation: October 9-October 13, 2018

Attachment phase: October 14-November 12, 2018

Travel to Washington, D.C.: November 13, 2018

Professional Fellows Congress: November 14-16, 2018

Depart United States: November 17, 2018

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