The Kennedy‐Lugar Youth Exchange and Study (YES) program was established in October 2002 in response to the events of September 11, 2001. The program provides merit‐based scholarships to study in the United States for approximately 885 high school students annually from countries with significant Muslim populations. Currently, students come from Albania, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Egypt, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Israel (Arab Communities), Jordan, Kenya, Kosovo, Kuwait, Lebanon, Liberia, Libya, Malaysia, Mali, Morocco, Mozambique, Nigeria, North Macedonia Pakistan, Palestinian Territories (Gaza and West Bank), Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Suriname, Tanzania, Thailand, Tunisia, and Turkey.
Each year YES students perform approximately 65,000 hours of volunteer service in their American host communities. The YES program currently has over 12,000 alumni around the world. Similarly, the YES Abroad program supports 65 American high school participants annually from across the United States to study for an academic year in countries that currently include Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Malaysia, Morocco, North Macedonia Philippines, Senegal, Thailand, and Turkey. While in their host countries, students live with host families, attend local high schools, engage in activities to learn about the host society and values, acquire leadership skills, and help educate their hosts about their countries and cultures.