Stevens Initiative

Global understanding shouldn’t be a privilege.

A program of the Aspen Institute, The Stevens Initiative was created to honor U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens, who was killed in the terrorist raid on the U.S. embassy in Benghazi in 2012. The ambassador’s family conceived of a program to celebrate his life — the joy he found as a young person exploring the globe, and his deep belief in the power of person-to-person diplomacy. In less than a decade, that goal is thriving in the Stevens Initiative, a major funder, advocate, and source of information for virtual exchange, which unites young people of disparate cultures through collaborative digital learning.

what we did

Media relations
Social media strategy
Web content
Opinion pieces

A mockup of three news clips showing information related to the launch of the Stevens Initiative, superimposed against a world map background

vitally virtual

The Initiative’s rapid growth and widening impact left little time for its communications efforts to keep pace, so we helped to sharpen its communications focus, hone messaging, and boost visibility beyond the international learning sphere.

Our charge was to increase recognition of the Initiative, as well as the concept of virtual exchange itself and the transformational impact that can happen when students in Chicago and Casablanca – or Columbia, S.C. and Jalisco, Mexico, and many more – connect. Their worldviews permanently expand.

equity in exchange

One of our strategies was to pitch stories that highlight virtual exchange as an educational equity lever, a way to give students access to international experiences no matter their location, income, or physical abilities.

We also created fresh messaging and web content that clarified the benefits and impact of virtual exchange, and designed digital strategy for social posts and advertising that stood out from the scroll and emphasized the Initiative’s role as a thought leader.

“The virtual exchange experience boosted my confidence and taught me how to handle conversations properly. It showed me that no matter how many different cultures you meet in the virtual exchange, you can still find something familiar between us. I learned to accept and cherish views with an open mind and heart.”


United Arab Emirates, Soliya’s Global Circles

“It also brings me closer to people in my own home country that are from different cities. And it just builds a sort of a found family.”


Community organizer and Stevens Initiative participant, Iraq
in Benghazi, foreign policy, and the Stevens Initiative
“[Students] all talk about how incredibly empowered and confident they are to move forward with different ethnicities, different religions, different cultures, how bold they feel about being able to tackle problems that before they would have thought were completely outside of their realm.”

Elisa Queenan

Professor of Business and Economics, Porterville College
in Inside Higher Ed, “Virtual Exchanges Promote Equity in Global Learning”
Let’s make something
brilliant together.
Let’s make something
brilliant together.
Women Owned