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The Young Pacific Leaders (YPL) Small Grants Program is a competition for seed funding to implement innovative programs throughout the Pacific region. The program provides funding opportunities for YPL alumni to carry out projects focused on improving their communities, countries and region.

Selected projects will address issues or opportunities related to the four core themes of the Young Pacific Leaders Program: Education, Environment and Resource Management, Civic Leadership, Economic and Social Development.

The program is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, funded through a grant from the U.S. Embassy New Zealand. Cultural Vistas began administering the program in 2018 and will continue through 2019.

Learn About 2019 Grant Recipients

'Pasin PNG' Our Culture. Our Pride.
Papua New Guinea

A series of cultural preservation workshops in villages of Morobe Province to demonstrate to local children and teenagers the traditional crafts and practices of the region. Each cultural element will be recorded on video and uploaded to an online digital library so the culture remains accessible for future generations.

Dren in Mour (Water is Life)
Marshall Islands

A project to provide all households in the outer island region of the country with household water filter systems to reduce waterborne illnesses and ensure resilience to climate variability in a remote area of the country.

E Tipu E Rea Mō Ngā Rā O Tou Ao
New Zealand

A leadership workshop in Auckland for Māori and Pacific secondary students from the East Coast of New Zealand focused on inspiring leaders of tomorrow and highlighting pathways for success through education.

American Samoa and Samoa

A youth awareness program highlighting the impact of pollution in American Samoa, Samoa and the surrounding ocean, and ways the two countries can collaborate and promote eco-friendly practices to address environmental issues.

Girls CAN Camp
The Federated States of Micronesia

The Girls CAN (Climate Action Network) Camp will empower the next generation of FSM women leaders combating climate change by bringing together high school girls from Chuuk for a week long leadership camp highlighting new techniques for women practitioners in the fields of conservation, marine science and climate adaptation.

Leading From Behind
New Zealand

Storytelling workshops capturing the views and stories of Pacific youth to help create more public awareness of diverse perspectives in leadership, policy, workplace environments to challenge traditional frameworks.


Connecting urban youths back to their communities through local workshops focused on traditional culture, highlighting where they come from, and building connections for continued engagement between urban and rural young persons.

French Polynesia and Fiji

Implementing solutions for local management of washed-up plastic waste on three Pacific islands, and promoting public awareness of alternative solutions for reusing plastic materials for community development.

Inspire and Connect
New Zealand, Tonga, Samoa, and Cook Islands

The project aims to showcase inspirational stories of Māori and Pasifika people through informational videos on pathways to success and in-person career events highlighting opportunities available for professional advancement.

Rima'i for a Sustainable Living
French Polynesia

A rural development program to raise awareness among people in French Polynesia about using handicrafts as a medium for social and economic growth to build a sustained economic models and learn digital skills for advancement.

“Talita o le lumana’i” (Protector of the future)
Samoa and American Samoa

An indigenous-focused leadership and environmental education program onboard the Va’a Gaualofa, in partnership with The Samoan Voyaging Society, to empower emerging young Samoan leaders and foster environmental stewardship in their communities and the region.

Youth LIFT
New Zealand

Youth LIFT (Leading Inclusive Futures Together) is a youth mentorship program for Māori and Pasifika Year 12 students in Auckland designed to promote active and inclusive citizenship through exploring local and global social issues while developing a sense of strong community leadership.

Youth@Work – YEC
Solomon Islands

A community engagement project that aims to provide unemployed youth with long-term economic security through small-scale vegetable farming support and training as a means for income generation.


To submit a proposal, the team must meet the following requirements:
  1. At least one team member must be a former YPL Conference Attendee.* This includes:
    • 2019 Conference: Suva, Fiji
    • 2018 Conference: Honolulu, Hawaii
    • 2016 Conference: Honolulu, Hawaii
    • 2015 Conference: Independent State of Samoa
    • 2014 Conference: Auckland, New Zealand
    • 2013 Conference: American Samoa
  2. All core team members must be between the ages of 20-35 and possess citizenship from a YPL member country.
  3. U.S. Citizens must demonstrate that their project is regionally focused outside of the United States, or be part of a cross-country team.
  4. Project must address at least one of the following themes:
    • Education
    • Environment and Resource Management
    • Civic Leadership
    • Economic and Social Development
*2018 YPL Small Grant Program core team members: Project Leaders, Project Treasurers, and Project Secretaries, are ineligible to re-apply.
Yes. The program will be conducted fully in English.
No, however, cross-border collaboration is encouraged.
Yes, it is required that each team have a Project Leader, Treasurer, and Secretary. These members will be deemed the “Core Team Members”. Not only will this make your proposal stronger but will also designate specific tasks within your project proposal.
Each team must have at least three core members (a Project Leader, a Treasurer, and a Secretary). There is no maximum number, however, you should only submit resumes for the three core team members. If you have more team members, submit an additional document listing them.
A successful project proposal is one that is feasible, reproducible, and scalable making a tangible difference in a local community and impacting at least one of the four YPL themes.
Budgeting is one of the hardest and most critical parts of your proposal. You must list all appropriate and applicable costs while remaining cost-conscious and feasible. The most successful projects are realistic in their costs. Budgets can be submitted in either USD or local currency, this must be indicated on the budget form. This budget template will be the main budget template for your project, please refer to our template to submit your project budget.
Projects can apply for up to $10,000 USD.
12 Projects will be selected for the 2019 program.
If selected, you will receive 60 percent of your funds after the kickoff workshop in June. You will then receive 35% of funds after submitting your monthly reports and your mid-term report. Finally you will receive the last 5% of the project funds after submitting your final report with project results.
Yes, all projects will be encouraged to seek crowdfunding and additional funds through the private sector to create as much impact as possible.
Projects will be evaluated by Cultural Vistas staff in conjunction with the U.S. Embassy New Zealand staff and U.S. Department of State.
No, applicants may only submit and be listed on one 2019 YPL Small Grants Program proposal.
Determinations of grant funding will occur in May 2019. Your project should plan to be six months in duration starting in late June 2019. All Projects must be completed by December 2019.
In late June 2019, three members from each team (Project Leader, Treasurer, and Secretary) will be required to attend a kickoff workshop in Auckland, New Zealand to learn valuable skills, improve their project plans, and meet fellow grant recipients.
In January 2020, each Project Leader will be required to attend a final program debriefing to deliver a presentation on the team’s project outcomes, successes and challenges, and opportunities for the project’s sustainability or replicability.
Cultural Vistas will be your point of contact for the entire process and serve as your mentor while your team is implementing your project. Any questions you may have on administration, budgeting, planning etc. Cultural Vistas will work with you on. Additionally, Cultural Vistas will host online mentorship webinars to assist you in different aspects of your project from before, during, and after the grant has completed.

Learn about 2018 Grant Recipients

Cook Islands

A web series showcasing Cook Islands Māori traditional knowledge in order to help preserve indigenous culture, customs, and language. The project is helping to ensure that Cook Islands Māori heritage survives and is able to be enjoyed by future generations, providing them with a strong sense of identity to become better leaders for the future.

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Fiji and Papua New Guinea

A data collection project in order to campaign the Government of Fiji for the rights and equal treatment of Deaf people across the nation and an establishment of a legal status of Fijian Sign Language. Accompanying efforts of the project are using data collection from Papua New Guinea in order to continue work on establishing the PNG Deaf Association This project is part an of ‘Inter-regional cooperation and development’ initiative.

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Focused on the promotion and improvement of early literacy, the development of intellectual skills and the increased reading ability for children aged 0-3, this project aims to create a stepping stone in the educational journey of youth and their development into well-equipped future leaders.

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New Zealand and United States (Affiliated Pacific)

An intergenerational indigenous science and engineering movement, focused on connecting Māori and Kanaka ʻŌiwi communities through an international exchange of traditional knowledge and methodology.

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Addressing the need to preserve the Niuean culture, the project provides a cultural bridge between youth in Niue and Niuean youth living abroad in order to help them reclaim their cultural identity using creative approaches and technology.

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An educational discovery of how the history and thinking behind Samoan and Pan Pacific architecture can be utilized when looking for sustainable development solutions, in particular, the critical issues of climate change and the bridging of the gap in the transfer of generational knowledge.

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Through the encouragement of a healthy and self-sustaining lifestyle and the incorporation of environment and resource management into school syllabi, the Malasitabu Project focuses on providing children in a school community, a well-rounded learning environment and further social and economic development.

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Across Palau a plethora of English children’s books can be found, but colorful and catchy Palauan children’s books do not exist. In order to promote literacy and the indigenous language in the nation, this project will be publishing and distributing the first original children’s book written in Palauan.

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In partnership with local government, researchers, youth and the community at large, this project aims to make a positive environmental, social and economic impact for the local reefs through the improvement of the future of inshore coral reef health by the manual removal of an overgrown invasive type of seaweed.

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Focused on reviving traditional approaches to farming in order to promote sustainable development, this project will connect local community members to training and different models for improving and further increasing the community’s sustainability.

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Papua New Guinea

Teachers play an instrumental role in the development of children from an early age, this project aims to improve the literacy rate and introduce students to more in-depth captivating curriculum through the advanced training of teachers in phonics, math, and child development, hoping to encourage an inclusive educational environment and to inspire the next group of future leaders.

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The Federated States of Micronesia

This project sets to address societal issues affecting youth in the Federated States of Micronesia by implementing capacity building activities in line with education and civic leadership through a mentorship program model.

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This map showcases the 2019 YPL LEADS Week Projects and where those projects will be taking place across the Pacific Region

Press Release

U.S. State Department Announces 2019 Young Pacific Leaders Grant Recipients | 21 June 2019

Nearly 50 Delegates Selected for the 2019 Young Pacific Leaders Conference | 8 February 2019

2018 Young Pacific Leaders Grant Recipients Announced | 25 April 2018

About YPL


The Young Pacific Leaders (YPL) Program is a youth leadership development program organized by the U.S. Department of State. The program started in 2013 and has held six regional conferences in American Samoa (2013), Independent State of Samoa (2014), Auckland (2015), Honolulu (2016), Honolulu (2018), and Suva (2019). In 2018, the YPL Small Grants Program was launched—providing seed funding to implement 12 innovative projects run by 36 YPL members throughout the Pacific region.


YPL strengthens linkages between emerging leaders across the Pacific and the United States, reinforcing the U.S. commitment to the Pacific region. These relationships with the younger generation of government, civic and business leaders help to harness the extraordinary potential of youth in the region to address critical challenges and expand opportunities.


The YPL community consists of bright young leaders, 20-35 years old, from Australia, the Cook Islands, Fiji, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Islands of French Polynesia, Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, Nauru, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, Wallis and Futuna, and the American-affiliated Pacific including American Samoa, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and Hawaii.

The program is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, funded through a grant from the U.S. Embassy New Zealand. Cultural Vistas began administering the program in 2018 and will continue through 2019.

For more information follow the Young Pacific Leaders program on Facebook, Instagram, and via the Twitter hashtags #YPL19 and #YoungPacificLeaders.

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About Cultural Vistas

Founded in 1963, Cultural Vistas is a nonprofit exchange organization promoting global understanding and collaboration among individuals and institutions. It develops international professional experiences that create more informed, skilled, and engaged citizens. Every year, Cultural Vistas’ 30-plus unique exchange programs empower thousands of individuals and organizations in the United States and more than 135 countries to drive positive change in themselves, their organizations, and society.