CDI international students

Citizen Diplomat Academy Impact

Our Citizen Diplomacy Academy empowers Philadelphia youth to see themselves as global citizens, entrepreneurial innovators, and cultural changemakers.

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Our Promise

As we face new challenges, from economic recovery to climate change, social unrest and public health, leaders who think globally and operate in a world marketplace are positioned to make the most significant impact on Philadelphia's future.

The Cost of the Crisis

Because of the Coronavirus, in-person educational travel abroad programs are on hold. Higher education project a 15-25% drop in enrollment by international students.

We are experiencing an abrupt and stark elimination of valuable cross-cultural learning experiences for thousands of youth for the next 2-3 years, until we can travel freely. Without international exchange, students miss out on tangible benefits, such as preferred college admissions, scholarships, and enhanced global career opportunities.

Most important, an interest in global affairs typically starts with an international experience. Without these opportunities to nourish global curiosity, where will our next generation of global leaders come from? If isolationism is learned, how stable is American security and democracy worldwide?

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Positioned to Meet the Challenge

As a leading organization in our national peer-network transitioning in-person to virtual face-to-face experiences, this new initiative builds on our 66-year history as the Philadelphia region's international relations organization. Citizen Diplomat Academy, in part, replaces our 30-year Sister Cities High School Exchange program, which is on hold due to the pandemic. The program enhances our 56-year relationship with Sister City Tel Aviv, Israel and our 5-year relationship with Sister City Frankfurt, Germany.

The Citizen Diplomat Academy expands on a successful model of the ‘How to Succeed as an Innovator’ exchange that was piloted in August 2020, thanks to the Stevens Initiative. We are dedicated to maintaining experiential international education for youth ages 14-26 throughout the Coronavirus pandemic and beyond.

Unlike our peers in Philadelphia, who focus on educating students for careers as diplomats and in foreign policy, Citizen Diplomacy prepares students with the core skills of diplomatic work and then places them in a live, face-to-face discussion with peers. Practical education that better equips them to work cross-culturally and strengthen international cooperation through direct personal action, not simply theory.

By the Numbers

Students Served from February 2020 - June 2022


Of participants are minority students


First International Exchange

Student Learn:

  • To practice core skills of dialogue and diplomacy
  • Increased awareness and understanding of civic and global competencies, and
    leadership philosophies for success
  • How to identify and respond to bias and stereotypes
  • How to network across global cultures
  • Education pathways to more international education and careers
  • A greater understanding of business, entrepreneurship and current social and cultural issues
CDI Student having a speech

Citizen Diplomat Academy

  • A global learning journey for high school and undergraduate students ages 14 to 26
  • 2 themes: ‘How to Succeed as a STEM Innovator’ and ‘How to Succeed Social Innovator’
  • Countries Engaged: Sister Cities Frankfurt, Germany and Tel Aviv, Israel; Egypt, United Arab Emirates, and Multi-country exchanges
  • 4 semesters per year, 20 exchanges offered summer and out-of-school time

Stories of Impact

Citizen Diplomat Academy: Alia Baher Aboraya

6th of October City, Egypt I am a few months shy of 20 years old. Two years ago, I graduated from an all-girls catholic school, where I learned values of […]

Citizen Diplomat Academy: Catherine Getty

Philadelphia, United States I am a chemistry major. For the past few years, I have been part of a bioinorganic research group. I am very interested in lab work, and […]

Citizen Diplomat Academy:Tracy Patterson

Philadelphia, United States I am a 20 year old African American woman from Philadelphia, PA. I am one of 9 children and am the first to graduate high school and […]

Your Donation holds the Keys to Global Change

High school students are open-minded and ready to learn about themselves and the world. With your help, an introduction to one international friend, made at this point in their development, can influence the trajectory of their lives in a positive, lasting way.

Sponsor a student for $325 or a full exchange for $15,000. Join our Global Givers Circle at $1,000 or Corporate Partners at $5,000 or $10,000 for year-long opportunities to engage yourself and your team.

Contact Andrea Silva, Director of Development to learn more about sponsoring a student or an exchange at 215-486-2092 or

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