Launched in 2013, the Young Pacific Leaders (YPL) program is the U.S. government’s signature program to strengthen leadership development and networking in the Pacific. Through a variety of programs and engagements including U.S. educational and cultural exchanges, regional exchanges, and seed funding, YPL seeks to build the leadership capabilities of youth in the region and strengthen ties between the United States and the Pacific.YPL focuses on critical topics identified by youth in the region: education, environment and resource management, civic leadership, economic and social development.
Many people in the Pacific region are under the age of 35. YPL is an effort to harness the extraordinary potential of youth in the region to address critical challenges and expand opportunities.
The YPL community consists of young leaders 20-35 years old from Australia, the Cook Islands, Fiji, Federated States of Micronesia, French Polynesia, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, Wallis and Futuna, American Samoa, Guam, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and Hawaii. Join the Young Pacific Leaders Network today!
Young people in the Pacific are working to make tomorrow a brighter day, and the United States is here to help. We want to hear from you! What resources do young leaders need to tackle environmental issues, educate your generation, increase prosperity, and work for the good of your community?
Share your ideas. Sign up today to be part of the Young Pacific Leaders community. Join thousands of your peers on the YPL Facebook page and Instagram.
The Annual Conference rotates around the Pacific Region. They foster connections between new YPL delegates and past alumni to further develop regional work of young leaders, provide knowledge, skills, and space for collaboration in addressing challenges related to all four YPL themes of education, environment and resource management, civic leadership, and economic and social development. Past conferences have happened in Hawaii, American Samoa, New Zealand, Samoa, and Fiji.
Professional development is offered to young leaders who want to make an even bigger impact in their communities. YPL Regional Workshops provide networking, mentoring, hands-on training, and the tools necessary to lead communities in addressing economic, environmental, educational, and civic engagement issues. By visiting one of the Pacific countries, young leaders develop an appreciation for the similarities and differences of each other’s culture.
Opportunities to apply for conferences and regional workshops are advertised throughout the year. Participants are selected by the U.S. Embassy in the participant’s home country. Join the Young Pacific Leaders community today to get updates on upcoming YPL conferences and regional workshops.
Apia, Samoa. October 4-6, 2023.
The Young Pacific Leaders (YPL) Regional Workshop on Embracing Equity, INclusion and Human Rights will bring together emering leaders from throughout the Pacific Islands to identify salient topics across the region related to equity, inclusion, and human rights and the ways to work together to develop tanigble solutions. Read more about this program here. View selected delegates here.
Throughout the Pacific, capstone celebration in Auckland, New Zealand November 14-16, 2023.
The Young Pacific Leaders (YPL) Amazing Race: Alumni Voyages will include a series of alumni team challenges. Individual applicants must be able to travel locally and regionally. The YPL Amazing Race: Alumni Voyages Challenges will begin May 2023 and will be launched each month. An in-person capstone and celebration will take place in Auckland, New Zealand over the dates 14-16 November 2023. Read more about this program here.
Tamuning, Guam, April 17-20, 2023.
YPL Annual Conference will bring together 40 young leaders from throughout the Pacific region on the YPL pillars of education, environment and resource management, civic engagement, and social and economic development. The YPL Conference will empower and equip selected participants with the skills and capacity necessary to create innovative and sustainable solutions that address social and economic challenges in their home communities. The Conference will include presentations from expert speakers, workshops, networking sessions, and cultural excursions to build participants’ leadership capacity and foster the next generation of Pacific leaders. Read more about the program here. View images from the Conference here.
Sydney, Australia. November 3-4, 2022.
This TechCamp, hosted by the Centre for Media Transition at the University of Technology Sydney, will build a regional network of media practitioners from Australia, New Zealand, Kiribati, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Fiji, Niue, Tonga, Cook Islands, and Solomon Islands. Together, they will create solutions and build the skills needed to combat the challenges faced in digital journalism, including mis- and disinformation. TechCamp trainers will work closely with participants to brainstorm low-cost, and easy-to-implement technologies and strategies that can be applied to local challenges. Read more here: TechCamp Australia – Engineering Ethical Journalism
Honolulu, Hawaii, November 28-30, 2022.
This Regional Workshop on Marine Sustainability will bring together Young Pacific Leaders in ocean policy for four virtual roundtables and a three day in-person workshop in Honolulu, Hawaii. The themes of this workshop include sustainable conservation and management of fisheries, a sustainable blue economy, maritime security and law enforcement, and technologies for countering illegal, unregulated, and unreported fishing. Read more here: Young Pacific Leaders Workshop on Marine Sustainability. Photos.
Auckland, New Zealand, October 29-November 1, 2022.
This TechCamp created connections among Pacific scientists and science communicators and their counterparts in the United States to support collaboration on climate change response while building a comprehensive understanding of and practical technical skills on various considerations needed to pursue climate resiliency and approaches to addressing the effects of climate change. Read more here: Applications Now Open for the Young Pacific Leaders TechCamp for Climate Action. View the Media Release: Climate Action Leaders Selected
Sydney, Australia, September 26-29, 2022.
This workshop will provide practical skill development and knowledge of regional issues related to the Civic Leadership pillar of the YPL initiative. Those selected to attend will explore civic and political engagement through a local, national, regional, and global lens, gaining a new understanding of how each occurs in various contexts. Participants will learn how to elevate their engagement and create inclusive advocacy strategies applicable to their work and communities. The program will include pre-workshop virtual activities, an in-person workshop in September 26-29 in Sydney, Australia, and a post-workshop virtual gathering in November 2022. Read more here: 36 leaders selected to attend the 2022 Young Pacific Leaders Civic Leadership Workshop in Sydney, Australia.
Honolulu, Hawaii, July 18-21, 2022
YPL Annual Conference brought together young leaders from throughout the Pacific region on the YPL pillars of education, environment and resource management, civic engagement, and social and economic development. The theme was Pacific Engagement 2.0: Carving New Paths for Regional Cooperation. Through the conference, participants developed new connections, advanced leadership and advocacy skills, and generated opportunities to work together to solve regional and global challenges through community service and small grants projects. View the Media Release and Photos.
Virtual, Papua New Guinea, May 7-9, 2021
YPL Annual Conference will bring together 50 young leaders from throughout the Pacific region on the YPL pillars of education, environment and resource management, civic engagement, and social and economic development. Through the conference, participants will develop new connections, advance leadership and advocacy skills, and provide participants opportunities to work together to solve regional and global challenges through community service and small grants projects.
Virtual, Australia, March-May 2021
YPL Cybersecurity regional workshop will bring together students and young professionals from Australia, New Zealand, the United States and other Pacific nations on the YPL pillar of civic engagement. Through the workshop, the participants will deepen their understanding of cybersecurity policy, cultivate relationships between future policy leaders, and generate recommendations for collaboration on cybersecurity and cyber workforce development.
Cook Islands, August 29-30, 2019
The YPL Sea and Earth Advocates (SEA) Camp brought together 40 young leaders from the Cook Islands on the YPL pillar of environment and resource management who were interested in pursuing careers in ocean sciences, technology, engineering and math. Sessions included a livestream connection with the Nautilius research vessel as it undertook research around Kiribati, site visit to the Marumarua Atua traditional voyaging society, and presentations from Sharks Pacific, Marae Moana, Ministry of Marine Resources, and Seabed Minerals Authority. Through the camp, participants gained knowledge, skills, and networks readily available to them to further their careers in ocean science. Blog post. Photos.
Fiji, March 6-9, 2019
The YPL Annual Conference brought together 46 young leaders from throughout the Pacific region on the YPL pillars of education, environment and resource management, civic engagement, and social and economic development. This is the first year two delegates from French Polynesia attended the conference. Through the conference, participants developed advocacy skills, build networks, and developed their knowledge of regional issues. Participants learned about mechanism for regional cooperation with a visit to the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) Secretariat, where they participated in PIF’s first ever mock forum. Following the conference, delegates organized community service projects and applied for grants of up to $10,000 for projects in their countries. Photos
YPL small grants competition is an opportunity for alumni of YPL programs. The competition provides funding for the Pacific region’s most promising young leaders to carry out projects that improve their communities, countries, and the region. Projects cover one of the four YPL themes: Education, Environment and Resource Management, Civic Engagement, and Social and Economic Development.
Opportunities to apply for small grants are advertised throughout the year. Join the Young Pacific Leaders Network today to get updates on upcoming YPL small grants opportunities.
See photos from the 2022 Small Grants Showcase and Workshop here.
ALOFA INITIATIVE, Tuvalu and Nauru Working to address the unavailability of online payment methods and the online presence of businesses in Tuvalu and Nauru, the project ran promotion and capacity-building workshops for their in-development e-wallet and e-commerce platforms. This project was led by the project team of Tuitala Lasifo, Billy Lasifo, and Efren Jogia.
Bok im Na, Republic of the Marshall Islands This project brought together youth for a climate change workshop summit, to explore how the Marshallese experience of climate change is shaped by its unique history, politics, culture, and other themes, and to build youth resilience and capture better responses to climate mobility, loss, and damage. This project was led by the project team of Bedi Racule, Olivia Vakacequ, and Danity Laukon.
EMBODIMENT Family Life Education Program, Samoa A workshop to provide sexual education for school leavers, giving them the knowledge to have a deeper understanding of all persons’ health, education, equality, and non-discrimination through promoting gender equality and human rights. This project was led by the project team of Mina Marie Seumanu, Atitoafaiga Kuini Tau, and Sauleone Anasis Saipele.
Nadera Food Forest, Fiji A project focused on tree planting and agroforestry of fruit and native trees as well as activities for the community to raise awareness on agroforestry, sustainable management, and good practices for planting trees and cultivation. This project was led by the project team of Nakita Bingham-Irvin, Losalini Baikeirewa, and Raina Hill Lewenilovo.
Romen Grammar School Unity Library Building Project, Papua New Guinea Through the building of a library for the Romen Grammar School, the project gave access to quality educational resources for 230 students, 13 academic staff, and 5 non-academic staff. This project was led by the project team of Phillie Julai, Julius Loko, and Wendy Julai.
The Future Ancestors Program: Pasifika Young People in Politics, Australia A conference/workshop that focused on civic leadership among young people, the project aimed to empower young Pasifika people in Queensland to be decision-makers and provide them with the tools to make changes in the local political space. This project was led by the project team of Mary Maselina Harm, Iree Grace Chow, and Michael Gorogo.
The Madau Project, Hawaii, USA Through educational workshops, hands-on activities, and community engagement, the project reconnected diasporic Micronesian youth in Hawaiʻi with their traditional wayfinding heritage, teaching the historical significance of Micronesian navigation, talk-story with cultural practitioners, and trade skills. This project was led by the project team of Nicole Yamase, Desiree Yamase, and Carol Ann Carl.
The Umestostoria Project, Guam and Palau Through cultural exchanges for Pacific middle-grade students, the project worked with participants to create short films about their respective countries that can be shared throughout the region as new educational resources for Pacific history. This project was led by the project team of Jayne de Guzman, Vinni Orsini, and Rhine Reyes.
Tubetube Primary School Library, Papua New Guinea Through the building of a library at the Tubetube Primary and Elementary School, the project aimed to facilitate students’ access to books and resources to enhance their education. This project was led by the project team of Kim Allen, Lydia Lisa Dimokari, and Milka Akane.
Yambanga Yuindi, Australia and New Zealand A cultural exchange between young Aboriginal people in Rockhampton and young Maori in New Zealand, the project aims to break the cycle of intergenerational trauma for Aboriginal people while also developing their leadership skills, and strengthening their identity, connection, and belonging. This project was led by the project team of Zhanae Dodd, Kalen Barrett, and Akayla McQuire.
Young Creatives Entrepreneurs Fiji, Fiji Through capacity-building workshops aiming to promote the socio-economic status of youths, this project focuses on skills in utilizing job opportunities and livelihood sustainability. This project was led by the project team of Abdul Shaheed, Rakin Wahed, and Fatima Ahmed.
Read the announcement here.
Busamang Community Marketplace, Papua New Guinea A model marketplace that will improve local livelihoods through income generation and provide a safe and hygienic location for local vendors to sell goods. This project is led by Jetta Caleb, Matthew Tomala, and Bobby Kunda.
Economic Empowerment of Rural Mothers, Fiji The project is focused on providing rural mothers with basic livelihood and financial education, training, start-up capital to run income-generating projects, and establishing a market access platform to ensure sustainability. This project is led by Kaliova Nadumu, Makereta Sovea, and Sivoki Susu.
Edetang Eoning (Youth Star), Nauru A numeracy and literacy development project for children in grades 1 and 2 that will work with both, teachers, and parents, to identify at-risk students and engage them in specialized classes, one on one programs, and mentoring to build knowledge and skills. This project is led by Jennifer Harris, Twylight Adam, and Cronisa Baguga.
Educational Exchange Young Leaders Learning Advocacy Program, Fiji This project focuses on supporting young peoples’ goals in returning to school by creating awareness of higher learning opportunities and alternative livelihoods through educational sessions, while also developing a platform for students to learn about Fijian culture and give back to the local community. The project is led by Faranisese Ratu, Laisiasa Kilioni, and Mereoni Rogocala.
EmPower Resource Center (ERC), Solomon Islands Aiming to tackle the issue of low computer literacy and limited connectivity among youth and community members, this project will establish a computer lab that is home to resources and training for computer basics, as well as other essential contemporary life skills. The project is led by Sharon Inone, Nou Fredrick Vada, and Ethel Diana Salini.
Empower Youth Development Program, Cook Islands By providing activities designed to help youth attain physical, mental, and social maturity, this project will work with youth, encouraging them to learn through practical community service. This project will be led by Maru Mariri, Travel Williams, and Tepou Vaevae.
ITUKUTUKU, Fiji Focused on the collation and dissemination of information using online platforms and communal dialogue in Fiji, this project will work to enable information and knowledge access, provide adaptable learning spaces for effective learning, and encourage traditional knowledge practice. The project will be led by Niumai Kavoa, Zoya Begg, and Alita Goneva.
Kikori Turtle Rangers, Papua New Guinea Focused on mobilizing youth leaders from different tribes of the Kikori River to advocate for the declining Pig-nosed turtle, this project will collect and incubate turtle eggs, collaborate with schools for turtle hatching activities, and provide environmental education while building the capacity of youth leaders to set a reference for future wildlife ranger programs. The project will be led by Joyce Mavera, Yolarnie Amepou, Kauro Einoko.
Kisim Bek Pasin Kastom, Papua New Guinea Through documenting traditional ways of mediating and reconciling conflicts in Bougainville’s Siwai, Buin & Kieta Cultures, this project will focus on preserving cultural tradition and knowledge. The project will be led by Eleanor Maineke, Daphney Toke, and Martin Nakara.
Madolenihmw Youth Empowerment in Natural Resource Management, The Federated States of Micronesia This project aims to empower the Madolenihmw youth to increase community awareness and stewardship in natural resource management. The project will be led by RJ Nedlic, Shirley Ann Pelep, and Mary Jane Hadley.
MultiDura Phase 3, Fiji As an e-commerce platform, this project focuses on helping entrepreneurs open an online store to sell their products and creating new export chains from Fiji to other countries in the region, as well as providing technical expertise to help local businesses. The project is led by Akshay Deo, Calev Chandra, and Christopher Prasad.
Tongan Youth Media Camp, Tonga Through hosting a four-day retreat for youth attendees to provide hands-on media training and explore current issues, this project focuses on skill-building in video production, leadership, communication, and media advocacy. The project will be led by Sifa Latu, Alokoulu Ulukivailoa, and Taniela Petelo.
Vunilagi Reading Programme, Fiji, Kiribati, Tuvalu By promoting reading in rural communities, the project aims to support parents and communities through children’s literacy development by providing daily reading and online learning. This project will be led by Koto Qalo, Adi Mariana Waqa, and Akanisi Draniliga.
Y-Pack Waves, Solomon Islands An inclusive youth-focused initiative set to tackle youth unemployment and motivate young people through training, team building, and engagement in economic and social development activities in their communities. This project will be led by Gregory Dime, Lanisa Maelau, and May Rima Kulueai.
Read the announcement here.
February 17th, 2022 via Zoom.
On February 17, Young Pacific Leaders are coming together to showcase their successes, learn from one another’s challenges, and explore future plans and possibilities. The U.S. Department of State, in partnership with Cultural Vistas, is delighted to be hosting the Young Pacific Leaders Project Showcase, a virtual interactive networking event. For full details, and where to register, follow this link.
Where funding is available and logistics are possible, YPL offers exchange programs to the United States. This offers the opportunity to participate in intensive professional programs and fellowships at workplaces across the United States.
Upon completion, alumni will be supported in implementing their leadership vision and plans through grant competitions, a network of contacts working on similar issues, online resources, and ongoing engagement with the U.S. Embassy in their country. Participants will become a part of the International Exchange Alumni community, which offers an online forum, allowing them to remain in close contact and share the ways they are making a difference in their countries and their region.
Opportunities to apply for U.S. exchanges are advertised throughout the year. Participants are selected by the U.S. Embassy in the participant’s home country. Join the Young Pacific Leaders Network today to get updates on upcoming YPL exchanges.
Throughout the United States, First cohort – February 12-March 18, 2023.
This Professional Fellows Program will bring three cohorts of young professionals from the Pacific Islands to the United States for intensive five-week programs, related to the Economic Development pillar of the YPL initiative. Selected Fellows are assigned to customized work-placements in the United States that will offer fresh insights and practical approaches to address economic empowerment challenges. Professional Fellows (ages 25-40) are those with social entrepreneurial talents geared towards helping their communities emerge from the global COVID-19 pandemic and building resilience to future economic shocks. Applications closed June 30, 2022. Read more about the program and eligibility: Pacific Islands Young Economic Empowerment Leaders.
Virtual connection with Washington D.C., Texas, California, and Hawaii, October 5-23, 2020
This virtual exchange program for Young Pacific Leaders in politics, civics, and business introduced participants to current social, political and economic issues in the United States, focusing on good governance and leadership development. Participants examined ways to foster accountability, how to take advantage of new technology to create efficiencies in government, while examining the ethical implications of these technologies. They also examined social enterprise as a model for business and social development. Participants met with organizations such as The Dallas Morning News, The United Way of Metropolitan Dallas Social Innovation, Code for America, City and County of San Francisco, and Kupu.
Michigan, Washington D.C., Wyoming, Arizona, California, and Hawaii, October 28-November 16, 2019
This exchange program for Young Pacific Leaders in business introduced participants to current social, political and economic issues in the United States, focusing on economic and social development, in support of entrepreneurship and workforce development across the Pacific. Participants examined ways to foster local business opportunities and how to take advantage of new technology to generate employment opportunities. They also examined social enterprise as a model for business and social development. Meetings and site visits emphasized skillsets that qualify youth for the job market and efforts that demonstrate to businesses the benefits of hiring well trained youth. Participants met with organizations such as Environmental Defense Fund, U.S. State Senate, Techtown, Velocity Incubator, U.S. Small Business Administration, Kupu, and Chamber of Commerce Hawaii.
YPL Project “LEADS” stands for Lead + Engage + Advocate + Drive Change + Serve. Project LEADS is an annual community service initiative that celebrates the power of YPL to positively transform their communities across the Pacific through ingenuity and developing solutions to local, national and regional challenges.
This year in 2021 YPL undertook community service projects throughout the month of June.
These acts of volunteerism will benefit not only you but those around you. By giving goods, services, and time at no cost to those around you, you are strengthening your community and empowering yourself as a leader. Whether you are cleaning up a beach or painting a school, running a virtual program, you can make a difference. No act is too small.