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Media Note
January 12, 2001

Russian Entrepreneurs to Learn in San Francisco
Community Connections at Work

Ten business entrepreneurs from Vladivostok, Russia, will arrive in San Francisco, California, on January 20 to spend four weeks working in the area and living with local American families. The professionals are participants in the U.S. Department of State's 2000/2001 Community Connections program, which provides home stay-based, three-to-five week practical training opportunities in the U.S. for entrepreneurs, local government officials, legal professionals, non-governmental organization leaders and other professionals from Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, Armenia and Kazakhstan. Local community host organizations arrange internships for participants based on interests and experience. The companies providing internships range from small, family-run enterprises to major, multi-national "Fortune 500" corporations.

During 2000 and continuing this year Community Connections will host more than 1700 participants from the former Soviet Union. Since the program began in 1994, more than 7,000 professionals from these countries have participated in this unique program.

"Community Connections offers participants exposure to the day-to-day functioning of a free market system," said Assistant Secretary for Educational and Cultural Affairs Dr. William B. Bader. "The program creates important, lasting links between U.S. and NIS regions and communities and encourages public-private partnerships in the NIS by involving participants from both sectors. In terms of its long-term service to international stability and our nation's interest, Community Connections is - as are all the State Department's exchange programs - a precious asset for America."

The Community Connections program is managed by the Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, which awarded a grant to San Francisco State University (SFSU) to host the Russian group in San Francisco. (Contact: Florence Alberts, San Francisco State University, phone (415) 566-1975 or fax (415) 753 6084.)

The Freedom Support Act 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 necessary for program operations, 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. not-for-profit organizations with representation in those countries, is an open merit-based competition. Candidates must successfully complete a three-stage selection process including completion of an application, interviews, and selection by the local U.S. host community.

For additional information, contact:

Catherine Stearns
U.S. Department of State
Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs
Phone: (202) 619-5053
E-mail: cstearns@pd.state.gov

The Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. Department of State fosters mutual understanding between the United States and other countries through international educational and training programs. The bureau does so by promoting personal, professional, and institutional ties between private citizens and organizations in the United States and abroad, as well as by presenting U.S. history, society, art and culture in all of its diversity to overseas audiences. Further information is available at http://exchanges.state.gov.

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