AFSA Outreach Programs

AFSA's outreach programs are our vehicle for telling the story of the Foreign Service to the American public, creating awareness and understanding of the importance of diplomacy and development. We do this through lecture series, speaker programs and educational seminars around the country, and various AFSA events staged here at AFSA HQ, such as Book Notes discussions and expert panels.

AFSA  also encourages the interest of students who are interested in a Foreign Service career. We do this through our essay contest, the minority summer internship program, and career seminars at universities across the country. Our outreach programs also honor members of the Foreign Service community who have performed exemplary service, dissented courageously and constructively, or given the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty.

Below you can see detailed information on our outreach programs:

AFSA Awards – This program is designed to help with professional development of the Foreign Service and increase the public understanding of the Foreign Service. Divided by the nine pay grades and by specialization, these awards (ranging from $2,500-$4,000) are made to Foreign Service employees for their achievements and projects undertaken in the Foreign Service. Applicants are nominated by colleagues.

Memorial Plaques – In the Department of State lobby, the memorial wall plaques are updated and a ceremony is held annually honoring those employees who lost their lives while serving in the U.S. Foreign Service. The U.S. Secretary of State presides over this ceremony.

Road Scholar Program – Academic programs for senior citizens to further understand U.S. diplomacy and the Foreign Service. These programs are sponsored by the national Road Scholar organization ( where AFSA is responsible for organizing the Foreign Service program offerings nationwide. Road Scholar handles all registration of attendees, but AFSA provides all the curriculum and speakers.

Speakers Bureau – Retired diplomats speak at universities, community groups, and other forums on international affairs issues incorporating their personal experience during these discussions. Groups contact AFSA to request a speaker, and AFSA then locates the closest individual that matches the group’s request.

Sinclaire Awards – Awards of $1,000 are bestowed to Foreign Service Officers who show outstanding success in learning one of the difficult languages referred to as a “hard” language (Category III and IV) in a relatively short period of time. Individuals must score a S-3+/R-3+ or better on the Foreign Service standardized language test in order to qualify to be nominated for the award. Any Foreign Service Institute (FSI) Instructor can nominate an individual for an award. Although, there is no cap on the amount of awards that can be granted in a single year, approximately 8-10 are bestowed each year.

Essay Contest – High school students nationwide compete in this contest, where prizes include an all-expense paid education voyage with Semester at Sea, a trip to Washington, D.C. and a meeting with the Secretary of State. Students submit essays of 1,000-1,250 words explaining how the Foreign Service plays a role in resolving a global issue of their choosing. Home schooled students can also apply.

Minority Intern Program – Minority college students explore a career in the Foreign Service in high profile office with a substantive work assignment. The students are paid a stipend for their summer internship. We offer these in collaboration with the Thursday Luncheon Group (TLG) and Hispanic Employees Council of the Foreign Affairs Agencies (HECFAA).

AFSA Events – Since 2010, AFSA has offered a robust program of events aimed at promoting diplomacy and educating students and the public about the Foreign Service. These include speaker series, book talks, and panels featuring experts on various diplomatic topics.

For more information, contact Ásgeir Sigfússon, AFSA's Director of New Media, at (202) 944-5508 or