What We Do


A “Climate Change and Renewable Energy” delegation visits the environmentally self-sufficient Bullitt Center with Denis Hayes, President and CEO of the Bullitt Foundation.

In 2016 IVP welcomed 912 emerging international leaders from 148 different countries! Our wide diversity of programming can be broadly categorized into the following themes:

IVLP 2016 Program Percentages  IVP 2016 Percentage Key

Each visitor we welcome to Seattle, whether they be youth or adult, a veteran professional or a young leader, comes on a program targeting specific learning goals and talking points. Seattle is one of the fastest growing cities in the United States, and with a young, highly educated population, it’s a vibrant regional center for trade and innovation. Our programming varies significantly depending on each project’s focus; see below for a few recent examples.


Economic Development, Trade, and Technology

With more than 40% of all jobs in Washington State tied to international trade, the Puget Sound region is one of the most trade-driven economies in the country. The innovative Northwest Seaport Alliance, combining Washington’s largest ports in Seattle and Tacoma, operates as the third largest container gateway in all of North America with especially strong ties to Asia. Seattle is also home to a dynamic entrepreneurial sector, with a particularly strong tech startup industry. It is annually listed in the third best city in the U.S. for female entrepreneurs, with a little over 30% of Seattle businesses being run by women. Such a vibrant economy is spurred through close cooperation between businesses, governments, and academic institutions.

Recent Programs:

  • Smart Cities – Indonesia
  • African Women’s Entrepreneurship Program Africa
  • Data Privacy and Protection in the U.S. – Europe and Eurasia
  • Global Leadership in International Aviation – Multi-Regional Project
  • Current U.S. Social, Political and Economic Issues for Young European Leaders – Europe and Eurasia



Seattle is a Pacific Northwest leader in medical research and biomedical technology production, with the University of Washington holding the third-highest research and development spending among universities in the nation. Seattle’s research centers maintain international prestige, including specialties in cancer research and global health through institutions such as the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Foundation, Center for Infectious Disease Research, Program for Appropriate Technology in Health (PATH), and the University of Washington Medical Center, ranked 11th in the nation.

Seattle is known for its broad commitments to advancing sustainability, and is ranked as the most sustainable city in the nation by STAR Communities.  The city has undertaken an ambitious effort to become completely carbon neutral by 2050, and has implemented a diverse array of environmental initiatives across public and private sectors to increase the city’s environmental competency. This includes innovations across public agencies, strong industry production in CleanTech and GreenTech, partnerships to create Smart Cities, and an active community of environmentalists.

Recent Programs:

  • Global Health Security – Multi-Regional Project
  • Combating Wildlife Trafficking – Mozambique
  • Our Oceans: Protection and Sustainable Use – Multi-Regional Project
  • HIV/AIDS Assistance and Activism for Stigmatized – Europe and Eurasia
  • Reinventing Japan’s Food System – Japan


International Law and Human Rights

Washington State, with an international border and port as well as a thriving agricultural industry, is a hotspot for international crime and human trafficking. In response to the ever-growing need to deter illicit trafficking and support victims, in 2002 Washington State became the first state in the nation to create a legal framework for addressing and prosecuting human trafficking. Since then both governments and non-governmental organizations in the region have continued to advance human rights, particularly in the areas of immigrant and refugee rights, gender and LGBT equality, and disability rights. The region’s many grassroots minority rights and social justice groups play an integral role in the development of progressive, inclusive policies, in both the city and the community.

Recent Programs:

  • Law and Legal Issues in the U.S. – China
  • Towards a More Safe and Secure World – Multi-Regional Project
  • Law of the Sea and Maritime Security – East Asia and the Pacific
  • Refugee Resettlement and Integration – Europe and Eurasia 
  • Human and Civil Rights for the LGBT Community – Multi-Regional Project


Media, Politics, and Civil Society

Seattle’s non-profit and civil society communities have a wide range of missions and goals, such as improving global health, engaging young people in politics, producing transparent and accountable governance systems, establishing interfaith and cross-community conversations, and promoting alternative and independent media.  As the headquarters for the internationally recognized Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Seattle’s endeavors to create safer and more inclusive communities extend beyond local borders. Locally, the City of Seattle’s Boards and Commissions serve as a means to provide individuals and organizations with a strong voice and input in developing policies and representation for underserved communities or key issues.

Recent Programs:

  • Politics and Elections – East Asia and the Pacific
  • Promoting NGO Management Excellence in the U.S. – China
  • Broadcast Journalism: New and Traditional Media – Multi-Regional Project
  • Inclusiveness in the Decision Making Process – Turkey
  • Journalists and Foreign Policy – Kazakhstan



The 2010 U.S. Census revealed that nearly three-quarters of Seattle residents were between the ages of 18 and 64 with an especially high concentration of young adults (age 25-34). These demographics have contributed to the development of many non-profit organizations, government initiatives, and community groups that specialize in issues impacting youth in Seattle. Additionally, Seattle is one of the most highly educated cities in the U.S. with 57.4 percent of all adults over 25 holding a bachelor’s degree or higher. The city is also at the forefront of applying new technologies to the higher education sector; the University of Washington made news when it became the first university in the United States to offer credit through a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC).  To promote workforce development, universities, community colleges and industries throughout Seattle have forged partnerships with businesses and organizations in order to help students gain the skills needed to procure meaningful employment.

Recent Programs:

  • Distance Learning for Students with Disabilities – Russia
  • American Culture and TEFL Education – Venezuela
  • Summer Leadership Program for Cuban Youth – Cuba
  • Iraqi Young Leaders Exchange Program – Iraq
  • American Libraries – Multi-Regional Project



Seattle’s lively arts community boasts more arts-related businesses and organizations per capita than any other metropolitan area in the US. As a national cultural center, it is home to a diverse array of visual arts, music and heritage museums including the Seattle Art Museum, the Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP), and the Museum of History and Industry. Taking advantage of the abundance of arts and culture throughout the city, many organizations and cultural centers in Seattle aim to engage and inspire youth and marginalized communities through art. The City of Seattle’s Office of Arts and Culture is one such branch of the local City Council that focuses on promoting greater cultural expression in Seattle as well as access to artistic opportunities for underserved communities. Most notably, the city dedicates 2% of its tax revenue towards Public Art, providing grants to artists of all mediums in developing publicly accessible art.

Recent Programs:

  • Comics and Graphic Novels – Russia
  • OneBeat Music Diplomacy Exchange – Multi-Regional Project
  • Promoting Social Change and Disability Awareness through the Arts – Azerbaijan
  • Empowering Youth through the Performing Arts – Multi-Regional Project
  • Diversity and Multiculturalism in the U.S. – Africa