What is Youth for Understanding USA?
Youth For Understanding USA is a private, nonprofit, educational organization that prepares young people for their
responsibilities and opportunities in a changing and interdependent world. “YFU,” as it is most often called, is one of the
world’s oldest, largest, and most respected international youth exchange programs.
What is our history?
Dr. Rachel Andresen founded the international network of YFU in Ann Arbor, Michigan, in 1951. The first participants were 75
German and Austrian teenagers invited to live with American host families as part of the post–World War II effort to rebuild
Since 1951, more than 240,000 students have participated in YFU exchange programs. Each year approximately 4,000
participants take part in YFU programs worldwide.
How is YFU organized?
YFU USA is directed by a president, who reports to a board of trustees. The president is advised by the International
Advisory Council (IAC), whose members are elected by the worldwide YFU community.
Today, there are more than 60 YFU partner offices and organizations around the world. Each national organization shares a
common mission and vision for the future and is fully autonomous.
If the majority of YFU National Organizations around the world are autonomous, how are programs coordinated?
The YFU International Basic Standards, developed by the International Advisory Council in consultation with all YFU
National Organizations, provide consistent quality in programs and operations worldwide. All YFU National Organizations
adhere to these standards to provide such quality through their own style and cultural context. Copies of the International
Basic Standards are available from the YFU International Secretariat in Washington, D.C. These standards apply specifically
to programs that include school attendance, but also set the tone for all YFU programs.
What is the tax status for contributions intended for an individual program participant?
Occasionally, people ask if money can be given to YFU USA as a charitable contribution and directed to help pay for
a specific student’s program fee. One may make a payment directly to YFU USA, but it is not considered an allowable
deduction by the IRS since it is for a designated student. General contributions to YFU USA may be claimed as a deduction.
What services are provided by YFU USA?
Staff at YFU USA provide financial, travel, and other administrative services to national organizations worldwide and to
district offices in the USA.
In which countries does YFU have programs?
Presently, YFU partners provide programs in more than 60 countries. Some are pilot programs coordinated by affiliates or
partners that in the future may gain full YFU membership as defined by the International Basic Standards. A number of YFU
countries have exchanges among themselves as well as with the USA.
What types of programs does YFU USA offer?
YFU has a number of different homestay programs for American and international students. This diversity allows YFU
flexibility in matching individual needs with its programs. American students (“SA” for Study Abroad) participate in
semester or academic year programs that include enrollment in school, or in summer programs.
Students between the ages of 15 and 18 coming to the USA from other countries (“IS” for International Students) attend
secondary schools for semester or academic year programs. The growing Community College Program offers students
between the ages of 17 and 23 an opportunity to live with a host family or in a dormitory and attend college classes.
2 - CCP HANDBOOK