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IIE Opportunities: USAID Democracy Fellows and Grants (DFG) Program

The Institute of International Education (IIE) was awarded USAID’s Democracy Fellows and Grants (DFG) Program, funded through USAID’s Center for Excellence on Democracy, Human Rights, and Governance (DRG), in September 2012. USAID’s Democracy Fellows Program was initiated in 1995 to promote democratic practices in emerging and transitional democracies by placing experienced DRG professionals within USAID. The current DFG program, effective from September 2012 – September 2017, is designed 1) to develop a pool of committed professionals at the junior, mid-, and senior levels; 2) to strengthen relations between USAID and academic, think tank, and research organizations; and 3) to promote research and innovative solutions to DRG programs.

The program will offer two types of opportunities to engage experts, students, and academic institutions in supporting USAID programming and policy: fellowships to junior, mid-level, and senior DRG professionals; and grants to academic or research institutions working in the DRG fields.


The DFG Democracy Fellowships will be developed with USAID bureaus, units, and missions and will support USAID’s research and analytical needs in the DRG fields, including, but not limited to: civil society and media, elections and political transitions, human rights, governance and rule of law, and conflict management and mitigation. Individual fellowships may target these fields broadly or address specific subsectors, depending on USAID’s priorities.

Full-time Democracy Fellows are hired as salaried IIE staff with benefits. Most short-term or part-time Fellows, and Interns, will be hired as consultants, allowing scholars or students with long-term commitments to other academic and research institutions also to contribute to building USAID’s technical leadership in democracy promotion.

Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.

IIE will retain all eligible applications on file for one year, and accepted candidates will be considered for future fellowships in their areas of expertise. For more information or to apply, please go to:


The Research and Innovation Grants (RIG) are a new component of USAID’s Democracy Fellows Program, added in the 2012 rebid and recognized in the program name change to DFG. Grants issued under the DFG program will integrate innovative, research-driven solutions within USAID policies and programs and strengthen relationships between USAID and academic institutions and experts working in the DRG fields.

IIE will manage three categories of grants under DFG:

  1. Grants designed to discover and elicit ideas, knowledge, and innovation within the academic and research worlds that can inform USAID programming and policy in broadly defined DRG areas, administered through an APS.
  2. Grants designed to engage academic expertise and learning to produce USAID research products, toolkits, or program models or to provide input to specific USAID policies or strategies, solicited through individual RFAs.
  3. Grants that establish long-term partnerships between the DRG Center and leading academic institutions to support the DRG Center’s strategy and program development systematically.

Upcoming DFG Grant Opportunity:

IIE soon will publish a research grant opportunity in the counter-trafficking in persons (CTIP) field to support the work of USAID’s Center of Excellence for Democracy, Human Rights, and Governance (DRG Center); these grants are part of USAID’s CTIP Campus Challenge.

USAID is aggressively pursuing a data-driven approach to designing and implementing its development programs, and the upcoming CTIP research grants are part of this effort. IIE published the draft grant questions  for comment from March 1 – 8, 2013. The comment period is now closed, and IIE will issue the full RFA soon.

If you would like to be notified of the RFA when it is released, please email

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