The Future Leaders Exchange (FLEX) Program is a United States Department of State-sponsored program for secondary school students from Armenia, Azerbaijan, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Georgia, Greece, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Ukraine. The program provides merit-based scholarships for students to travel to the United States, live with a host family, and attend a U.S. high school for a full academic year.
FLEX was established in 1992 and funding is provided through the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. The program was created from the conviction of former Senator Bill Bradley that the best way to ensure long-lasting peace and understanding between the U.S. and the countries of Eurasia is to enable young people to learn about the U.S. and Americans firsthand, and to teach Americans about their countries. The program served as the model for the YES (Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study) and A-SMYLE (American Serbia and Montenegro Youth Leadership Exchange) programs and has since expanded to other countries.
The primary goal of the FLEX program is to improve mutual understanding and develop and strengthen long-term relationships between citizens of the United States and other peoples and countries. The State Department supports exchanges for secondary school students from over 50 countries through FLEX and other academic year programs. Since the program’s inception in 1993, over 26,300 students have participated in the FLEX program.