What we do

Each year the Washington Ireland Program actively seeks Emerging leaders who are committed to building a peaceful and prosperous future for Northern Ireland and Ireland. We then work to support, develop and inspire these promising leaders through our renowned programs of personal development, policy debate, public discussion, and community service.


Inspiring and developing leaders

Each year, we select courageous and committed Higher Education students, and both young and experienced community leaders to take part in our outstanding leadership and skills development programs. We seek People who are committed to using their skills to serve others and foster reconciliation across the island of Ireland.We currently offer three Leadership programs, as well as a range of high-profile events and Discussions for our alums and partners.

Our Programs

Emerging Leaders Program

WIP's Emerging Leaders Program has been operating since 1995 and has played a key role in inspiring and developing some of the leading political, business, community, and civic leadership figures in Northern Ireland and Ireland today. It is renowned as being a challenging and inspiring year-long program of personal development, policy debate, community service, and public discussion for full-time students in Higher Education.

Service and leadership

Taking place in Northern Ireland, Ireland, and Washington DC, our emerging leaders are guided through an extensive curriculum focused on service and leadership, the two core principles of WIP.

In Northern Ireland and Ireland

At home in Northern Ireland and Ireland, our students begin to develop their leadership skills through a variety of challenging curriculum based experiences, while learning directly from those in local and global leadership positions. The service aspects of their curriculum expose them to big ideas and the many complex issues facing people across the island of Ireland.

In Washington DC and New York City

Each summer, the Emerging Leaders Program also includes a high-profile work placement in Washington DC.

Placements are chosen for the students and we aim to match them to the student’s skills and interests. Previous placements have included Capitol Hill Offices, businesses, PR firms, research laboratories, non-profits, and advocacy organizations. Our students also visit WIP service partners who are working to tackle issues including homelessness and disadvantaged young people, to learn about service in a US setting, and the challenges faced by communities in Washington DC. Our participants stay with a host family while in the United States.

Throughout the Program, our students hone their leadership skills by dealing with differences, through debates, and by writing policy papers, to help them in their future work to develop a peaceful and prosperous future for the island of Ireland.


Applications for our Emerging Leaders Program open in October of each year.

Learn more about our Emerging Leaders Program

Washington Ireland Academy

The WIP Academy is our newest leadership development program for people aged 18 to 25 who are already involved in community work on a voluntary or professional basis. Participants do not need to be attending school or enrolled in a Further or Higher Education course to participate in the WIP Academy.

Brilliant young minds

Each year, young community leaders, who are committed to peace, reconciliation, and collaboration on the island of Ireland, are selected to take part in the program which is supported by the Bank of America.

Conduit for change

Our vision for the Academy is to allow young people from all communities on the island of Ireland to reflect and respond to the major questions facing our communities. In doing so, we enable them to develop their leadership, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills, so they can play a role in resolving these challenges now and into the future.

Unique work projects

In addition to taking part in an eight-week remote project with a prominent U.S. leader, participants also hear from senior community leaders from Northern Ireland, Ireland, and the United States. WIP mentors and volunteers also help our developing community leaders to grow, reflect, and boost their knowledge and confidence levels.

Designed with flexibility in mind

The program’s unique flexibility means participants can combine it with their home, sporting, caring, or other responsibilities. Applicants do not need any formal qualifications to apply, but a track record of serving others in any capacity is a key requirement. Some events take place in September, but the majority of Academy activity takes place in June and July.

The nomination and selection process begins in Spring each year.

Learn more about the Washington Ireland Academy


For over two decades, AMBIT has been convening leaders from Northern Ireland and Irish border regions to improve outcomes for people living in communities most affected by division. WIP operates the capacity-building program on behalf of the International Fund for Ireland.

Each year, a carefully selected group of experienced leaders from many different sectors, are carefully chosen to take part in a two-week study visit to innovative and leading community organisations in the United States.

Upon completion of their AMBIT study visit, participants join the AMBIT Alums network, a unique group of community leaders who have taken part in study trips to the U.S. over the last 21 years.

AMBIT participants are nominated by their peers and the nominations process opens in Autumn.

Learn more about AMBIT