Program Details

What is M²GATE?

M2GATE is a team-based social entrepreneurship program that offers experiential learning and cross-cultural interactions with international peers through a virtual exchange.

The program covers the following topics, taught by experienced instructors:

  • Cross-cultural Team-building
  • Communication Skills
  • Leadership Development
  • Introduction to Entrepreneurship
  • Design Thinking & Creative Inquiry
  • Business Model Canvas

Through the eight-week program, your cross-cultural, six-person team will identify a social challenge or issue in the MENA region. Through the program’s instructional modules, your team will learn how to approach this problem and create and pitch an entrepreneurial solution. The program will culminate in your team’s proposed solution being entered in a virtual competition. The MENA-based members of the winning team from each cohort will be offered the opportunity to travel to Michigan to meet their Michigan-based teammates, interact with entrepreneurs in Ann Arbor and Detroit, and pitch their project to an expert panel for feedback and further development.

Who is eligible to participate?

This application is open to post-secondary (undergraduate) students aged 18-30. In the United States, this opportunity is available to students attending Eastern Michigan University, the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor, Dearborn, or Flint campuses), and Wayne State University. Graduating seniors are welcome to apply. Even if you are graduating in April, you may still apply. The opportunity is also available to undergraduate students aged 18-30 from Libya, Morocco, Tunisia or refugees currently residing in one of these four countries. (Note: The program is no longer accepting applications from Egypt, as the applicant pool is at capacity.) We encourage applicants from a variety of disciplines – including Engineering, Business, Healthcare, and Liberal Arts – to apply. We strongly encourage women, refugees, and persons with disabilities to apply. (Students who have previously participated in a U.S. Government-funded exchange program are, unfortunately, ineligible for this program.)

What is the program timeline?

This program runs three times in 2018:

Cohort 1: 26 January – 6 April
Cohort 2: 6 April – 8 June
Cohort 3: 25 May – 20 July

What is the time commitment for this program?

Plan to spend a total of 32 hours on this program over the 8 weeks. Most of these hours will be team-based, although some will be individual. Recognizing that this is a co-curricular activity, and many students who participate have demands on their time, we encourage you to consider your academic load and your ability to fully contribute to your team.

The estimated weekly time breakdown is below.

Week Time (Hours) Details
1 3 Live opening session, team meeting, and individual tasks
2 4 Online videos, teamwork (assignment #1), mentor check-in
3 2 Online videos
4 4 Mentor check-in, teamwork (assignment #2)
5 4 Team project
6 5 Team project, mentor check-in
7 5 Team project
8 5 Finalize team project (assignment #3), mentor check-in, live closing session


What is a “virtual exchange”?

Virtual exchange involves “using technology to empower young people from different cultures to participate in a kind of global classroom, where they regularly exchange ideas, work on projects together, and develop relationships built on mutual respect.” Although relatively new, virtual exchange can be a powerful tool to connect young people who may never otherwise meet, fostering positive change and goodwill” (here).

By combining technology with proven educational techniques, virtual exchange makes it possible for every young person to have access to a meaningful cross-cultural experience. Virtual exchange can be a powerful tool to connect young people and give them a new window on the world. Virtual exchange creates more affordable access to a new and important learning experience.


What kind of support will I have throughout the program?

Throughout the program, you will work closely with your team’s country program manager as well as a mentor – both based in the MENA region. The instructors will be available online to answer questions and offer feedback on your assignments. WDI representatives will also be available to answer questions.

Your team, however, is your greatest resource and most valuable source of support. If you are based in Egypt, Libya, Morocco, or Tunisia, your teammates will come from your country, and you will be joined by two teammates based in Michigan, U.S.A. If you are based in Michigan, you will be joined by one teammate also from Michigan, and four teammates based in eitherEgypt, Libya, Morocco,  or Tunisia.

Your team will be part of an online learning group. This group will feature four teams, together representing each of the MENA countries and Michigan. Your learning group will be part of the same online forum, allowing you to exchange ideas.

Finally, you will be in a cohort of nearly two hundred fellow learners. You will have a Twitter hashtag to communicate in your cohort, and other social media groups to continue and extend the shared experience and the cross-cultural learning you will gain through the program.


What benefits will this program offer me?

Anytime we step out of the familiar and into new relationships, we open ourselves to opportunities we cannot foresee. Participants will emerge with new or improved 21st century skills in: global understanding, cross-cultural communication, leadership, and empathy, as well as experience in social ventures.

In addition, students who complete this program will receive: connections and new friendships with teammates and others; a digital badge linked to a skillset particular to this program, which can be displayed on your LinkedIn profile; and finally, a printed and signed certificate of accomplishment, with branding from the U.S. State Department, Aspen Institute Stevens Initiative, and the William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan.


Will this program strengthen my résumé?

Yes. The participating schools are the only ones in the world to offer this unique virtual exchange program. Participants who complete the program will have access to resources to help you articulate the value of this program in an interview or on a résumé. For more benefits of the program, see the ‘Why Participate?’ tab, left.


Will I be able to travel as part of this program?

The MENA-based students on the winning team from each cohort (three teams total) will travel to Ann Arbor, Michigan where the teammates will unite to pitch their solution to a panel of experts and investors. Otherwise, the program will be conducted entirely virtually.


What else should I expect?

Effort: This is a co-curricular program that does not offer university credit. We recognize that it will compete for your time with your for-credit classes. Be prepared for this and expect to manage your time in such a way that your team members share the load fairly. (See the estimated time commitment, above.) Each participant in this program will sign a Learning Compact at the start of the program committing to this.

Assignments: The main product your team will turn in is an entrepreneurial solution to a social issue, presented in video form. This video will be due the final week of the program. There will be two shorter assignments due earlier in the program.

Language: The program will be primarily conducted in English, though those Michigan students with Arabic competency are encouraged to use it when communicating with their team. Arabic subtitles and translation will be provided for instructional videos, PowerPoint presentations, and other learning materials.



The Stevens Initiative is an international effort to build global competence and career readiness skills for young people in the United States, the Middle East and North Africa; it is funded by several public and private donors including the U.S. Department of State and the Bezos Family Foundation.

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