Citizen Diplomacy Action Fund FAQ

Below are frequently asked questions about the Citizen Diplomacy Action Fund (CDAF) for U.S. Alumni, a competition for alumni of U.S. government-sponsored exchange programs. If after reading through the FAQs below you still do not see an answer to your question, contact and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

What is the Citizen Diplomacy Action Fund for U.S. Alumni?

The Citizen Diplomacy Action Fund for U.S. Alumni provides small grants for teams of U.S. government-sponsored exchange program alumni to carry out public service projects using the skills, knowledge, and networks gained during their exchange experiences. This funding opportunity is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State and implemented by Global Ties U.S. CDAF will award funding to teams of at least two exchange alumni, of whom the primary team member must be a U.S. citizen, to carry out public service projects in one of the following themes:

  • Strengthening Democratic Institutions & Fighting Disinformation   
  • Protecting the Environment    
  • Building community through Arts, Sports, Language, and Technology   
  • Human Rights, Refugees, and Migrants   
  • Fostering Alumni Network Development 

What are some examples of projects suitable for this competition?

Past participants have developed projects that promote media literacy education, build community resilience, foster alumni network development, and engage with issues such as climate change and sustainable development.  For examples of previous winners, please view the links  below.

2022 Winners: click here

2021 Winners: click here 

2020 Winners: click here

2019 Winners: click here

Rapid Response Winners: click here

Competition Eligibility

Can you please elaborate on the specific selection criteria used by the review committee?

Please review the criteria used by proposal reviewers here.     

What limitations are there due to the COVID pandemic?

Due to the ongoing global pandemic, travel will be reviewed and funded on a case-by-case basis. If you propose travel, please provide a brief health and safety plan on how you plan to maintain a healthy and safe environment, as well as how you might adapt your project if unable to travel (ex: Go virtual, manage the project virtually, etc.)  If local travel is proposed to take place internationally, the U.S. embassy or consulate in that country must review and approve. We welcome applications that propose virtual options to typically conducted workshops, trainings, or other innovative programming.

Can a project be proposed by an individual?

No. Proposals must be submitted by teams of at least one U.S. exchange alum and one U.S. or international exchange alum.

Are there age restrictions for project leads?

Yes. Project leads and any team members must have graduated high school and be at least 18 years-of-age at the time that the application is submitted.

For how many projects can I apply/be a team member?

Eligible alumni can participate in a maximum of two (2) Citizen Diplomacy Action Fund proposals  per project cycle, adhering to the following:

  • Alumni are limited to submitting one proposal as the project lead.
    • Alumni cannot be the primary team lead on multiple projects. If Team Lead 1 submits multiple applications, only one will be accepted.
  • Each submitted proposal must consist of unique alumni individuals or teams.
  • The same proposal cannot be submitted multiple times by different project leads. If this happens, the submitted proposals will be disqualified.

If I previously received a Citizen Diplomacy Action Fund grant, am I eligible to submit a project for the 2023 round?

Yes! Previous Citizen Diplomacy Action Fund grantees may submit a proposal for the 2023 round, however priority will be given to strong proposals of team lead applicants who have not won a CDAF grant within the past two (2) rounds (CDAF 2022, 2021) to allow more alumni the opportunity to implement public service projects.

If you are the primary team lead who has submitted a previous application and plan to work with a different team, please update your team profile before submitting a new CDAF application.

Must grant recipients receive approval from and/or partner with embassies in countries where they intend to carry out the proposed activities?

No, it is not required that teams partner with embassies for their projects prior to submitting the proposal — however, as part of the review process, projects must be approved by the Public Affairs Section (PAS) of the respective U.S. embassy if they plan on carrying out any portion of the project outside of the United States. This is to ensure that PAS supports the project concept.

For projects that propose virtual activities with international communities and participants, the review committee will share the idea with the PAS of the U.S. embassy or consulate in the country of the proposed activities.  If teams have an existing relationship with PAS, we encourage teams to reach out for approval and collaboration.

Can I conduct a project in a country not associated with my exchange experience?

Yes, projects can take place in any country (including the U.S.). However, at least one team member must show extensive familiarity with the country and/or region. Your team will indicate your familiarity with the location and local community in the project narrative section of the CDAF application. U.S. based projects are also supported through CDAF funding.

Do projects need to receive IRB approval?

No, IRB approval is not required. Please note, however, that the Citizen Diplomacy Action Fund is not intended to fund academic research projects or research projects including human subjects.

Are U.S. Government employees eligible to apply?  

Current U.S. Department of State employees are not eligible to apply for CDAF. Other U.S. government employees must to check with their respective ethics offices, but are not immediately barred from CDAF grant funding. 

Application Process

I am ready to submit my Citizen Diplomacy Action Fund application, but I am experiencing technical difficulties. What should I do?

Make sure all required fields of the application are complete. You will not be able to submit your application unless all required fields are completed.

Make sure you have an Internet connection and are using a supported browser. We recommend using Google Chrome. You may also use Firefox, Safari, Opera, and Internet Explorer 9.0+. You may need to update your browser. Make sure both Javascript and cookies are enabled in your browser.

If you continue to experience problems with the submission of your application, please contact

Do I need to have an International Exchange Alumni account to apply? 

At this time, we are not requiring alumni registration on the website as a requirement to apply for the Citizen Diplomacy Action Fund. The U.S. Department of State is in the process of upgrading the website, and as a result, registration to the site is not currently possible. The new website is estimated to launch in March, 2023.

However, all team members must still be eligible U.S. Government sponsored exchange program alumni to apply. The Proposal Review Committee will verify each team member’s alumni status prior to project proposal selection.

Budgetary Considerations

Read more about funding guidelines here

Find the budget template here. You must use this template in your application.

I’m not sure if my proposed project costs are compliant. Where can I check on this?

Please refer to the Funding Guidelines and Instructions for Budget Template. It can also be found on the grant application portal.

Can Citizen Diplomacy Action Fund grants be used for emergency cash assistance?

Cash transfers, small loans, gift cards, or vouchers of any kind are not allowable under the Citizen Diplomacy Action Fund. You could instead use Citizen Diplomacy Action Fund grant money to pre-purchase food, personal hygiene, or other allowable relief supplies and obtain cash transfer or small loan money, gift cards, and/or vouchers as in-kind contributions to your project as is appropriate to respond to your beneficiaries’ needs.

How will my team be asked to manage the grant funds/budget?

Project teams must carry out the project using one budget. Funds will be disbursed to one bank account (the bank account of Team Lead 1) and the team members will need to coordinate on spending the funds.

Are project leads eligible to receive honorarium based on their capacity and engagement in the project, as described in their application?

When appropriate, honoraria may be budgeted for speakers, trainers, and similar contributors to project activities up to $250 per day depending on contribution and up to $599.99 per contributor total. Project funds cannot be used to fund salaries. Yes, project leads are eligible to receive honoraria for their contributions to the project activities. Whether team leads or not, please base the funding on contribution which you’ll describe in the budget narrative. We continue to encourage alumni and others to donate their time in support of the community. Please allocate any extra volunteer time from team leads, partners, etc. as cost share in your budget and budget narrative. We can help you document these contributions throughout your project; you may use the Department of Labor hourly rates to estimate them in your budget. You may also include regular rates that the project lead or team members would typically charge for such services as cost share.

What is the difference between salary and honorarium?

Grant funds may not be used to pay salaries; however, grantees may allocate funds to provide honoraria for speakers, presenters, trainers, and other individuals contributors. You may request up to $250 per day based on the individual’s contribution with a maximum of $599.99 in honorarium per individual. Project leads and team members are eligible to receive honoraria. For the purpose of this grant, ‘salary’ and ‘honorarium’ (pl. ‘honoraria’) are distinguished as:

  • Salary: The regular rate that a professional would charge for their services when fulfilling a non-voluntary role.
  • Honorarium: A payment made to an individual for their voluntary contribution of their services and/or expertise to the project.

Can my team seek out funds from other sources  not included in the original budget proposal?

Yes. Any additional funds you secure to support the project should be reported as cost share.

Can a project lead report the time they commit to the project as cost share?

Yes, project leads and all others involved in the implementation of your Citizen Diplomacy Action Fund project may report any voluntary time spent on the project as cost share in the Citizen Diplomacy Action Fund Volunteer Timesheet. If you budgeted for project lead or team member (if applicable) salaries to be included in your total cost share amount for your grant, then you must report this time on the Citizen Diplomacy Action Fund Rapid Response Volunteer Timesheet. For volunteer contributions, you can estimate the amount using the official Department of Labor hourly rates.

How will CDAF funds be distributed to the project leads?

Upon receiving your official award email notification from the U.S. Department of State, the team at Global Ties U.S. will coordinate with Team Lead 1 to complete a W9, Vendor Form, and ACH Bank Information form. We will also send both team leads a formal grant contract for your approved project. Once you have completed all administrative documentation, Global Ties U.S. will disburse the first 2/3 of your full grant award to your bank account. The remaining 1/3 of your grant award will be disbursed upon receipt of your complete mid-project report.

If you are in a team with one U.S. citizen and one non-U.S. citizen as the team leads, these administrative documents will be in the name of the U.S. citizen team lead. These documents may not be in the name of an organization, business, or academic institution under any circumstances.

Can grant funds go to a bank account owned by a nonprofit, for-profit, or academic institution?

No. Funds must be disbursed to a bank account owned by an individual.  Funds will not be disbursed directly to an organization for any reason.

What taxes will need to be paid on these funds?

No taxes are to be paid on the grant funds.  The grant is set up as reimbursable, meaning the funds are being disbursed as an advance, and subsequently cleared through expenses reported on the “CDAF Financial Report & Certification” template. Since the grant is treated as a reimbursement, there are no tax implications.

Do individuals and/or teams receive travel insurance if they are awarded a grant?

Global Ties U.S. does not cover grantees under any kind of liability or travel insurance. Grant funds may be used to cover insurance costs only if this request for funds is included in the approved project proposal.

Grantees may consider AIG or Seven Corners if they are interested in travel insurance.

Building a Team

How do I build a team/connect with other alumni?

We recommend reaching out to your exchange program’s alumni services and connecting with local alumni associations that may be in your area.

Do all my team members have to be U.S. citizens?

No, not all team members must be U.S. citizens. The primary team lead who receives the funds and starts the application must be a U.S. citizen, and the secondary team lead and additional team member can be U.S. or international citizen alumni.

Can my team include alumni from different countries?

Yes, you may apply with a team of U.S. exchange alumni from diverse countries, if at least one project team lead (Team Lead 1) is a U.S. citizen exchange alum.

Can my team include alumni from different programs?

Yes, your team can consist of alumni from diverse U.S. government-funded exchange programs.

Do all team members have to be alumni of U.S. government-sponsored exchange programs?

You are encouraged to engage community leaders, stakeholders, and organizations as partners to support your project. Additional partners and supporters outside of the alumni team do not need to be alumni of U.S. government-sponsored exchange programs. All non-alumni contributors to the project should be listed as a project “partner.”


The Citizen Diplomacy Action Fund is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State with funding provided by the U.S. Government, and implemented by Global Ties U.S. in partnership with the Office of Alumni Affairs in the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.