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 You are in: Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs > Bureau of Public Affairs > Bureau of Public Affairs: Press Relations Office > Press Releases (Other) > 2001 > June
Media Note
Office of the Spokesman
Washington, DC
June 15, 2001

Russian Entrepreneurs Learning in Philadelphia Area

Ten business entrepreneurs from Kemerovo, Russia have arrived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to spend four weeks working in the area and living with local American families. The entrepreneurs are participants in the U.S. Department of State's Community Connections program, which provides home stay-based, three- to five-week practical training opportunities in the United States for entrepreneurs, local government officials, legal professionals, non-governmental organization leaders, and other professionals from seven countries of the former Soviet Union.

The 2000-2001 Community Connections program is hosting more than 1700 participants; since the program began in 1994, over 7000 professionals from Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Moldova, Russia, and Ukraine have participated since the program began in 1994. U.S. community host organizations arrange internships for the participants based on interests and experience. The companies providing internships range from small, family-run enterprises to major, multi-national "Fortune 500" corporations.

"In terms of its long-term service to international stability and to the U.S. interest, the Community Connections program is an important asset for America," said Dr. Helena Kane Finn, Acting Assistant Secretary for Educational and Cultural Affairs. "The program exposes participants to the day-to-day functioning of a free-market system, it creates lasting links between U.S. and NIS [New Independent States] regions and communities, and it encourages public-private partnerships in the NIS by engaging participants from both sectors."

The Community Connections program is managed by the Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, which awarded a grant to the International Visitors Council of Philadelphia to host the Russian group in Philadelphia. The FREEDOM [Freedom for Russian and Eurasian Emerging Democracies and Open Markets] Support Act of 1992 provides funding for Community Connections. Grants are awarded to community-based, non-profit 501(c)(3) organizations and cover expenses such as participant airfare, modest per diem for participants during their U.S. stay, administrative expenses, and local transportation during the program. Nearly all of the funds awarded to local community organizations are spent in the local community.

Recruitment for Community Connections, carried out in the NIS countries by U.S. non-profit organizations with representation in those countries, is an open, merit-based competition. Candidates must compete in a three-stage selection process, including completion of an application, interviews, and selection by the local U.S. host community.

Contacts: Ann Stauffer, International Visitors Council of Philadelphia, (215) 683-0988 or ann.stauffer@phil.gov

Catherine Stearns, U.S. Department of State, (202) 203-5107 or cstearns@pd.state.gov

Released on June 15, 2001

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