ICES Bridging Cultures Scholarship

for American High School Students

The ICES Bridging Cultures Scholarship is a unique program that promotes cross-cultural understanding by awarding scholarships to American high school students based on an essay competition.


About ICES

Since 1991, International Cultural Exchange Services has been working to increase cross-cultural understanding and global peace through high school youth exchange. ICES provides both inbound and outbound exchange opportunities, as well as the Global Ambassador Program in which American students provide peer support to exchange students in their communities.

About the Scholarship

The ICES Bridging Cultures Scholarship is a program that aims to increase cross-cultural understanding and global peace through high school youth exchange. The scholarship is awarded based on an essay competition. The annual scholarship topic and dates for application are announced in early spring.

The 2023 scholarship awards were 1st place: $4,000, 2nd place: $3,000 and 3rd place (5): $2,000 each. The awards are for education-related expenses for undergraduate study only and are one-time only and not renewable. The winners are selected by a committee and notified in May.

Applicant Eligibility Requirements:

  • Be a high school student in grade 9-12
  • Be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident enrolled full-time in a public, private, or home school in the United States.

Application Requirements:

  • Essay length is 500 words for the 2024 essay
  • Student must be the sole author of the submitted essay
  • No artificial intelligence (AI) generated content allowed
  • Applicants must submit a completed online application and essay by given date

ICES employees, paid contractors, board members, and their immediate families are ineligible to participate.

Applicant Agreement:

Applicants agree to have their essay published by ICES, and their name and photo used in a local press release and for promotional purposes on the ICES website, social media accounts, newsletter, and other medium.

Get Access to the ICES Scholarship Application

Award Winners, Topics & Essays

ICES Scholarship Award Winners 2023

What does it mean to think globally and act locally and why is it important?

Read about the 2023 winners and their essays

ICES Scholarship Award Winners 2022

How does knowing people from other countries and cultures make our lives better?

Read about the 2022 winners and their essays

ICES Scholarship Award Winners 2021

How can we build cultural bridges and positive relationships with people who think or believe differently than we do?

Read about the 2021 winners and their essays

ICES Scholarship Award Winners 2020

Why Cross-Cultural Understanding Is Important to Our Future

Read about the 2020 winners and their essays

Interested in the ICES Global Ambassador Program?

This is what two ICES students had to say about their own Global Ambassador

“She was always there for us, she was an amazing helper, and I knew I could trust her with everything. It was really nice to have her by our side during the amazing experience.”

Natalia, Spain

“She started off being someone I could always rely on and someone who always had my back. As time went by, she turned out to be more than just an ambassador, but a friend. She would plan all sorts of social events like homecoming for instance. And simply having her around was a delight! She truly affected my exchange year for the better!”

Dang, Norway

Learn more about the Global Ambassador Program