Expanding Opportunity

Speech in Cairo  |  Expanding Opportunity  |  Science & Technology  |  Democracy & Human Rights  |  Interfaith Engagement | Timeline

In Cairo, the President stated that the U.S. will continue to seek a broader engagement with Muslims around the world, including new partnerships in education, economic development, and health to expand opportunity throughout the world.

  • Economic opportunity partnerships to create jobs for young people, including by advancing entrepreneurship;
  • Education partnerships to advance human capacity;
  • Exchanges to build people-to-people ties and advance human understanding;
  • Health partnerships to support human development.

These are just a sample of U.S. government programs focused on these key areas. 


Presidential Summit on Entrepreneurship. The Presidential Summit on Entrepreneurship (April 26-27, 2010) highlighted the important role that entrepreneurship can play in expanding opportunity at home and abroad, while deepening engagement among the United States and Muslim communities around the world. The Summit included approximately 250 successful entrepreneurs from more than fifty countries; identified ways to advance economic and social entrepreneurship; built networks among stakeholders in entrepreneurship; and, provided an opportunity to establish partnerships that advance entrepreneurship. More information on these specific deliverables can be found here.

Partners for a New Beginning.  Partners for a New Beginning will be a group of eminent Americans from a variety of sectors – corporate, philanthropic, education, non-profit, entertainment – who will leverage resources and capabilities outside the U.S. Government to advance the vision for a new beginning with Muslim communities around the world. Partners for a New Beginning will be an independent, self-administered group that will operate in close coordination with the Department of State.

Small Business Administration Partnerships with Oman, Bahrain, Tunisia. SBA and the Department of State have entered into several agreements with Oman, Bahrain, and Tunisia to assist women entrepreneurs in the Middle East and North Africa. Through these Memorandums of Understanding, SBA will provide guidance and assistance in developing and implementing loan guarantee programs, government procurement policies, entrepreneurial development programs and business centers, and support to strengthen women and small and medium enterprises.

Business Volunteer Corps. At the Presidential Summit on Entrepreneurship, Secretary Clinton announced a new program, E-Mentor Corps, that will call on business leaders and proven entrepreneurs in the United States and overseas (including the delegates at the Summit) to serve as E-Mentors to aspiring and emerging entrepreneurs around the world. Read more at America.gov.

Global Entrepreneurship Program. A new effort led by the Department of State in partnership with the Department of Commerce, USAID, OPIC, and the Millennium Challenge Corporation, the Global Entrepreneurship Program will coordinate, integrate, and leverage existing U.S. Government and private sector resources, partnerships, and programs to support six methods of supporting entrepreneurs: Identify, Train, Connect, Guide to funding, Sustain, and Celebrate. The proposed program has twelve focus countries throughout the world, including seven Muslim-majority countries. The Department of State and USAID have launched the first pilot program in Egypt and will soon launch the second in Indonesia.

Expanding Cooperation on Labor Issues.  Over the last two years, the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Affairs has more than doubled its foreign assistance to Muslim-majority countries, and is working with these countries to combat child labor through a range of innovative programs, including:

Child Labor Education Initiative. In October 2009, the Department of Labor funded a new child labor education initiative in Indonesia.  The four-year EXCEED (Eliminate Exploitive Child Labor through Education and Economic Development) program aims to work in partnership with the Government of Indonesia to reduce the overall number of children involved in and at risk of engaging in exploitive child labor in four provinces.

Education & Exchange Programs

The U.S. Government has increased funding for exchange programs in Muslim-majority countries throughout the past year by more than 30 percent and has sought an additional increase for the following year.   We also announced a number of new exchange programs, including:

  • Entrepreneurs for a New Beginning:  Entrepreneurs for a New Beginning is a new two-way professional exchange program for rising business and social entrepreneurs. The Department of State is forging relationships to offer participants educational seminars, mentorship, and first-hand experience in the business place with American entrepreneurs. The program will connect participants with outbound American entrepreneurs and will examine strategies used in the United States to enhance the capacities of young business managers, to develop a spirit of entrepreneurship and small business enterprise, and to strengthen societies through the pursuit of social entrepreneurship. This program will bring 100 entrepreneurs to the U.S. over the next 4 years and will also work with private sector partners to send 100 American entrepreneurs abroad over the next four years. More information can be obtained from the Department of State.
  • Science and Technology Education Exchanges:  During his speech in Cairo, the President said that “education and innovation will be the currency of the 21st century.” This new science and technology exchange program will bring 25 science teachers from Muslim-majority countries and communities to examine effective methods of teaching science at the primary and secondary school levels. The program will explore how to nurture and support hands-on science education, how to demonstrate the relevance of science for children, and how to create a setting in which children actively engage in scientific learning. In addition, the participants will observe extracurricular science camps and science fair educational programs that emphasize experiential learning.
  • Young Entrepreneurs Program:  Launched in September 2009, the Young Entrepreneurs Program is a professional exchange program that promotes entrepreneurial thinking, job creation, business planning, and management skills to assist young professionals. As part of the YEP, the Department of State will launch a new initiative called Education to Employment Fellows. Beginning in 2009, this initiative will bring at least thirty fellows from eligible countries to the United States for internships that will aid their professional development.
  • NASA Arab-Youth Exchange Program:  NASA has established an Arab-Youth Exchange Program which will bring Arab youth on exchanges to NASA research facilities.  NASA and the Arab Youth Venture Foundation in Dubai have partnered to provide three to 12 UAE engineering students each year the opportunity to work with U.S. students, scientists, and engineers on NASA missions. The program's goal is to engage outstanding college students from the UAE in fields of science, technology, engineering and aerospace.

Advancing Education, Literacy, and Access to Knowledge:  The U.S. is committed to working with partners to advance education, literacy, English language training, and access to knowledge.  For example, the State Department has added 7,500 new English Access Microscholarships and is a partner in establishing digital libraries in the Maghreb.  The Peace Corps returned to Indonesia earlier this year, and volunteers will focus on education among other issues.  USAID Missions in Muslim-majority countries help fund projects focused on advancing education, including:    

  • Iraq: USAID has supported 19 literacy programs in Iraq through its $6 million Iraq Rapid Assistance Program (IRAP). Several of these programs were implemented in coordination with Iraq’s Ministry of Education, with the Ministry providing textbooks and/or classroom space. IRAP and its local partner organizations provide program coordination and instructors. IRAP literacy programs that teach women how to read not only empower women, but also increase Iraq’s overall education level and contribute to the country’s developing economy and civil society.
  • Teacher Training Initiative: USAID’s Teacher Training Initiative in Nigeria supports curriculum development and recruitment of female teacher training candidates in three Northern States.

Fostering Linkages Between Schools and Universities:  We are connecting schools and universities around the world with those in the U.S. to help foster mutual understanding, develop academic collaborations, and advance education goals in the U.S. and abroad.  A few examples include:    

  • Virtual Linkage Exchange Program:  The U.S. Embassy in Manama worked with the University of Bahrain and American University to develop an innovative, "virtual," cross-cultural exchange program that brings together students from both schools to work on joint academic projects. What began as a pilot project that involved one class has now expanded to five classes.
  • Sister Schools in Qatar:  Working with an American non-profit, the U.S. Embassy in Doha has established a "Sister School Network" linking American and Qatari high schools through both virtual and physical exchanges.  The Network began in academic year 2009-2010 with four schools and will expand to four more in 2010-2011.

American Students to Study Abroad:  The Department of State is expanding opportunities for undergraduate American students to study abroad by 40 percent in the past year through the Gilman Scholarship program.  For undergraduate and graduate students, the State Department has increased scholarships by 20 percent for Intensive Summer Language Institutes in Muslim-majority countries, including launching a new institute in Indonesia this summer.  The Department of State is also providing opportunities for American high school students to spend a semester or academic year attending high school in predominantly Muslim countries through the YES Abroad program and to study critical languages (e.g. Arabic, Turkish, Farsi) in summer, semester, and academic-year immersion programs through the National Security Language Initiative for Youth. 

Global Health

U.S. - OIC Polio Partnership:  The United States and the Organization of Islamic Conference are working closely to eradicate polio.  Additionally, since the President's Cairo speech, the OIC is working with the World Health Organization to develop national campaigns among (the 57) OIC members to combat the disease.  The Islamic Fiqh Academy issued a fatwa urging the ministries of health in Muslim countries to promote campaigns for vaccination against the disease while calling on parents to have their children vaccinated.  During their consultations on polio, Center for Disease Control is finding an enormous appetite for partnerships with Muslim-Majority Country governments, especially on knowledge transfer and technical assistance.  Health and Human Services Office of Global Health Affairs (OGHA) is pursuing ways to shape the polio effort into a broader global engagement.  Additionally, at the April 27 - 28 meeting of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Health Ministers' Executive Board, the six GCC health ministers endorsed the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI). 

H1N1: Before last year's Hajj, there were warnings of a potential pandemic outbreak of H1N1 flu. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) partnered with the Saudi Health Ministry on a cutting-edge program to contain the flu using smart-phones for real-time disease mapping.   Due to this partnership, there was no spike in H1N1 flu cases after the Hajj, and the Saudi Minister of Health asked to sign an MOU with HHS which will expand cooperation into applied research (working with NIH) and provide assistance on Saudi Arabia's reform of its health care system.

Pursuing a Comprehensive Global Health Strategy: President Obama launched a six-year, $63 billion Global Health Initiative (GHI) focused on sustainable service delivery where the needs are greatest and the conditions are right to build effective health service delivery systems. The GHI approach, which will be implemented in all countries in which the United States provides health assistance, but fast tracked in nine countries, focuses on HIV-AIDS, TB, malaria and neglected tropical diseases and improving the health of women and children.  It advances a new business model that integrates programming to ensure sustainability; uses proven, evidence-based interventions, and phases out strategies that have not improved health outcomes; measures the outcomes and impact of our health assistance; innovates for results by identifying, implementing, and rigorously evaluating new approaches that reward efficiency, effectiveness, and sustainability; and collaborates with developing country governments for impact, emphasizing effective and accountable developing country government leadership in addressing development challenges.

Health Diplomacy:  The Health Diplomacy program at the Department of Health and Human Services, the African Field Epidemiology Network jointly with the University of Sokoto is initiating community level managerial, epidemiological and surveillance training programs at the University’s School of Public Health in Northern Nigeria. To make this project possible, the Office of Global Health Affairs partnered with the Sultan of Sokoto, the spiritual head of the Muslims in Nigeria and CDC.  The trainings will target first responders in the local health system for detecting and possibly preventing outbreaks, to coordinate surveillance activities, manage public health systems and implement community outreach. These trainings will benefit immunization campaigns and will strengthen local primary care systems.

Joint USAID-OIC Maternal-Child Health Cooperation:  In accordance with the Cooperation Framework for Joint Emergency Response entitled "Reaching Every Mother and Baby in the OIC with Emergency Care," the U.S. and the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) are proceeding to design joint activities. Plans are underway for a joint consultation in Jeddah in August, country identification, and initial country visit(s) in November 2010. The joint plan will focus on activities to build capacity in target countries, including training programs to make emergency care accessible to populations at risk, and developing and implementing a comprehensive outreach effort to engage men, women, and communities and maximize nationwide participation.


White House Shareables