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 shared interests in the areas of participatory governance and economic opportunity and reform.
Focusing on promoting stability and prosperity in the region, MEPI supports partnerships through projects that are responsive to emerging opportunities by being field-driven, applying evidence-based decision-making, and designing results-oriented projects.
In addition to these core objectives, MEPI’s Tomorrow’s Leaders program prepares 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.
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 participatory governance in viewing citizens’ role as direct deliberative 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 to engage with governments in shaping their demands for services and opportunities on the local, regional, and national levels. MEPI bolsters civil society to effectively interact with government officials to increase their responsiveness to citizen needs and with citizens to channel their participation in decision-making. MEPI supports government officials’ efforts to increase their engagement with and responsiveness to citizens to resolve issues of shared concern.
- Increase citizens’ civic engagement to foster partnership and mutually beneficial dialogue with civil society and public officials.
- Strengthen individuals, including youth, with knowledge and skills to advocate for their interests at all levels of government.
- Utilize MEPI leadership training programs to provide economically disadvantaged individuals the opportunities to build their leadership skills to effectively engage with civil society, the private sector, and/or government actors.
- Professionalize civil society organizations and build their organizational and communication capacity to connect effectively with decision makers and/or citizens.
- 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.
- Increase women’s representation in government institutions, and promote their civic and political participation.
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 in areas of mutual interest to promote business enabling environments, entrepreneurship, and a skilled labor force to help cultivate broad-based opportunities.
- Improve business-enabling environments through economic reform, especially in higher-income and non-traditional development countries.
- Support governments’ efforts to increasing financial transparency and implement economic reforms.
- Improve government policies and procedures that expand opportunities for entrepreneurs and small and medium enterprises for economic growth and job creation.
- Bolster social entrepreneurship initiatives that develop, fund, and implement solutions to social issues, and facilitate their collaboration with citizens, civil society and governments.
- Partner with investors, entrepreneurs, and consumers to create institutions, and craft regulations that encourage broad-based economic growth.
- Increase workforce employability and skill level, and improve citizens’, including youth, access to higher value opportunities through demand-driven vocational training and targeted, localized job placement, primarily in the private sector.
- Promote economic growth through increasing women’s participation in economic activities and reducing the gender income and employment gap.
MEPI does not fund programs with a primary focus on:
- Human rights
- Humanitarian Assistance
- LGBT rights
- Religious freedom
- Journalist training
- Basic and secondary education
- English language training
- College Prep
- 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.
- 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.
- Promotes collaboration between the private sector and civil society.
- Partners with middle and high income countries to improve the investment climate through targeted legal and regulatory reforms that further U.S. economic objectives.
- Adopts a methodological approach that focuses on the long term and a geographical connectivity that draw from the experience of experts and thought leaders in the region.
- Remains committed to providing flexible and timely responses to emerging priorities that advance U.S. strategic interests in the region.
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 (typically managed by MEPI-DC);
- Locally focused grants (typically managed by Regional Offices);
- Cross-cutting regional grants (typically managed by MEPI-DC); and
- Interagency Agreements (IAA – managed by another U.S. government agency).