The Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI) fosters meaningful and effective partnerships between citizens, civil society, the private sector, and governments in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region to resolve local challenges and promote participatory governance and economic opportunity and reform.
Focusing on promoting stability and prosperity in the region, MEPI supports partnerships through projects that have the agility to respond to emerging opportunities through field-driven, evidence-based, and results-oriented projects
Fostering partnerships among citizens, civil society, the private sector, and government institutions to generate shared solutions that promote stability and prosperity in the Middle East and North Africa.
The MEPI program responds to needs and emerging opportunities for citizens and organizations that target two core objectives.
MEPI advances direct deliberative citizen engagement with decision-makers and processes. Broader citizen participation in governance ensures inclusive decision-making and transparent political processes, promotes stability, and enhances citizen confidence in government. MEPI empowers citizens and civil society to effectively engage with their government at the local, national, and regional level, helping them participate in decision-making and expanding access to opportunities and resources. MEPI supports government officials’ efforts to increase their engagement and responsiveness to resolve citizen concerns.
- Increase civic engagement to foster partnership and mutually beneficial dialogue with civil society and public officials at the local, national, and regional level.
- Strengthen individuals, including youth and those from underserved communities, with knowledge and skills to advocate for their interests at all levels of government. Promote regional collaboration, support, and information-sharing.
- Utilize MEPI leadership training programs to provide economically disadvantaged individuals, including from marginalized and minority groups, the opportunities to build their leadership skills to effectively engage with civil society, the private sector, and/or government actors. Participants in select programs will be required to participate in gender studies.
- Professionalize civil society organizations and build their organizational and communication capacity to connect effectively with decision makers and/or citizens. Provide opportunities for regional networking, collaboration, and information sharing.
- Strengthen civil society’s ability to act as a credible mediator between governments and citizens, and channel citizens’ concerns in an effective manner.
- Enhance governments’ efforts to be representative of, responsive to, and trusted by their citizens.
- Support governments’ efforts to increase their transparency, access, and accountability. Provide opportunities for regional networking, collaboration, and information sharing.
- Increase women’s representation in government institutions and promote their civic and political participation. Build racial and gender equality into programming at all levels.
Economic opportunity and reforms are cornerstones for fostering partnership between citizens, civil society, the private sector, and governments. MEPI partners with the U.S. private sector to promote business-enabling environments, entrepreneurship, and a skilled labor force in the NEA region.
- Improve business-enabling environments through economic reform, especially in higher-income and non-traditional development countries.
- Support government efforts to increase financial transparency and implement economic reforms.
- Improve government policies and procedures that expand opportunities for entrepreneurs and small and medium enterprises (SMEs), particularly from marginalized groups, for economic growth and job creation.
- Bolster social entrepreneurship initiatives that advance solutions to social issues and facilitate their collaboration with civil society and governments. Provide opportunities for regional networking and collaboration.
- Leverage American diversity to create institutions and craft regulations that encourage broad-based economic growth.
- Increase workforce employability and skill level among citizens – including youth and those from underserved communities – and access higher value opportunities through demand-driven vocational training and job placement, primarily in the private sector.
- Promote economic growth through increasing youth and women’s participation (particularly from underserved communities) in economic activities and reducing the gender income and employment gap.
- Pilot projects in emerging markets which diversify the economy to create jobs while reducing vulnerability to external shocks such as changes in commodities markets or the COVID-19 pandemic.
In addition to these core objectives, MEPI’s Tomorrow’s Leaders program prepares participants to become future community and business leaders in the MENA region. The Congressionally-directed program supports scholarships for underserved and qualified students at select U.S.-accredited universities and emphasizes a strong civic engagement component.
MEPI does not fund programs with a primary focus on:
- Human rights
- LGBTQI rights
- Religious freedom
- Journalist training
- Basic and secondary education
- English language training
- College Prep
- Health, unless it focuses on job creation and economic diversification
- Agriculture, unless it focuses on job creation and economic diversification to combat the effects of climate change and promote resiliency
- Environment, unless it focuses on job creation and economic diversification to combat the effects of climate change and promote resiliency
- Countering violent extremism
- Public diplomacy/cultural heritage activities
MEPI adopts a distinct approach that:
- Fosters development of civic and business leaders by providing opportunities at various stages of their professional development.
- Encourages “intellectual risk taking” by engaging in innovative projects and exploring new initiatives with potential for scaling up both within a country or regionally.
- Operates at the local level and builds the organizational capacity of nascent civil society organizations.
- Designs regional programs to connect individuals and organizations across MENA.
- Incorporates a gender approach into all projects.
- Seeks diverse and inclusive inputs to drive program design and implementation.
- Promotes collaboration between the private sector, civil society, and governments.
- Partners with middle and high income countries to improve the investment climate through targeted legal and regulatory reforms that further U.S. economic objectives, creating examples for other countries in the region to follow.
- Adopts a methodological approach drawing experts and thought leaders in the region.
- Remains committed to flexible and timely responses to emerging priorities that advance U.S. strategic interests in the region.
Programming Mechanisms: This strategic framework is operationalized through country-specific strategies that align these priorities with Post’s Integrated Country Strategies (ICS), other State Department and interagency strategies to guide projects designed to further U.S. foreign policy in the region. The country strategies further inform the prioritization of projects implemented through one of the following four mechanisms:
- Country-focused grants (managed by MEPI-DC and Regional Offices);
- Locally-focused grants (managed by Regional Offices);
- Cross-cutting regional grants (managed by MEPI-DC); and
- Interagency Agreements (IAA – managed by another U.S. government agency).