What Is the "Access" Program?

"Educational," "exciting," "useful," and "fun" — four adjectives that stand out in a cloud of words that Lebanese youth chose to describe the English Access Microscholarship (Access) Program, a high-impact initiative that AMIDEAST administers in multiple locations on behalf of the U.S. Department of State — in several countries doing so since the program began in 2004. For underprivileged youth, the program offers a chance to improve their English language proficiency that is invaluable for future academic and professional opportunities. 

But Access is much more than a language program. Access students also learn about American history, geography, government, and lifestyle, with special emphasis on such critical issues as the environment and diversity. Access teachers guide students in identifying key similarities with their own cultures, helping to foster mutual understanding between their countries and the United States.  Even the many hours spent in the classroom honing English skills are a chance to learn more than a language; students experience a collaborative classroom that emphasizes active learning and critical thinking.

Beyond the classroom, the teens receive leadership training and develop civic values through community service activities. The program is also forward-looking, with college advising, career guidance, and mentoring activities built into the curriculum in order to guide students to their next steps in life. For some Access students, this means a chance to apply for the YES program, to spend a year at a U.S. high school, and for scholarship programs for higher education (including AMIDEAST’s DKSSF and Hope Fund programs). The vast majority of Access students pursue a university degree and many stand out as leaders at school and in their communities.

AMIDEAST has supported the Access Program since its earliest days. Currently, it administers more than 4,800 Access grants across six countries: Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Palestine, and Tunisia. In recent years, AMIDEAST also offered the program in Yemen (where it was suspended due to the turmoil there) and Morocco, and it hopes to offer a second Access round in Iraq soon.

Learn more about AMIDEAST-managed Access programs.

For more about the far-reaching impact of the program, check out Lebanon’s Access Yearbook for 2016, highlighting the activities of Access classes at 50 public schools throughout the country: