Youth For Understanding
||The neutrality of this article is disputed. (August 2011)|
|This article may rely excessively on sources too closely associated with the subject, preventing the article from being verifiable and neutral. (August 2011)|
|Mission||YFU advances intercultural understanding, mutual respect and social responsibility through educational exchanges for youth, families and communities.|
|Method(s)||International Educational and Cultural Student Exchange|
Youth For Understanding (YFU) is one of the world's oldest and largest international exchange programs. Each year, YFU exchanges approximately 4,500 students worldwide.
YFU programs are delivered by over 60 autonomous and independent national organizations working as partners throughout the world.
History of YFU and YFU USA
Youth For Understanding was established in 1951 in the Detroit area and moved to Ann Arbor, Michigan, in 1956. In its early years, the agency brought students from post-war Germany to live in the United States to experience the USA and, by 1955, the agency sent high school students from the USA on 10-week trips to Germany.
Note: This introduction only reflects the US-side of YFU-organisation. The exchange program itself originated in late summer 1951 by the High Commission in Germany HICOG as the "Urban/Rural Teen-Age Exchange Program". Already in its first year it was supported by members of the Michigan Council of Churches (MCC) under the motto "Youth for Understanding". Within the next 10 years it evolved into two organizations YFU-USA and YFU-Germany. The first "exchange" from the USA to Germany was a summer program with 30 US high school students organized by MCC-alumni. During that year Germany became a sovereign country and the US government stopped funding the exchange program with Germany, which continued as a not-for-profit activity between the two YFU organizations in the USA and Germany. In 1961/62 a one year exchange program from the US to Germany was added with 6 initial students from the US.
The first trips across the Pacific and to Mexico were established in 1958, and South America in 1959.
YFU, Inc., the non-profit educational organization, was established in 1964, and the agency's offices were moved to Washington, D.C. in 1978.
During most of the 1990s, YFU, Inc. served as the primary administrative organization for applications and interviews in the Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange (CBYX) scholarship program, overseen by the now defunct United States Information Agency (USIA). With the dissolution of the USIA toward the end of 1999, the CBYX scholarship program began to be reorganized on a regional basis, and YFU ceased its central administrative control.
By the start of the 2000s (decade), a financial crisis forced YFU, Inc. into bankruptcy. The agency's offices were moved to Bethesda, Maryland, in 2002 and the agency was reorganized as YFU USA Inc. Ulrich Zahlten, founder and former chair of YFU in Germany became the new chairman of the board of YFU USA. After YFU, Inc. declared bankruptcy, it was entirely removed from the CBYX program due to its reorganization. The reorganization also reversed the agency's misfortunes — the annual report for 2005 reports four consecutive years of budget surpluses.
YFU USA has five district offices,Founders, Heartland, Horizon, Northeast and Southeast. YFU remains a volunteer-based organization as YFU USA has 1,500 active volunteers. 
Current YFU USA programs
Each year, internationally, YFU arranges the exchanges of more than 4,500 high-school students between some 60 nations. YFU offers a diverse range of educational opportunities for students, families, volunteers, and schools. All YFU programs center on the family living experience.
The YFU USA Study Abroad Program provides opportunities for United States high school students to live with a host family and study abroad for a year, semester, or summer. Each year, YFU USA awards over 250 full and partial scholarships. Many of these scholarships are to Japan and Germany, which are among the most popular destinations for American students. However, new sponsorships, from both the government and corporate sectors, have allowed more scholarships to be awarded for study in other countries. 
The YFU USA International Student Program offers American families the opportunity to host an exchange student. In 2013 YFU USA welcomed more than 1,800 students from over 60 countries. 
The YFU USA Community College Program brings the host family experience to young adults and is present at 17 community colleges across the United States.
- YFU USA history page from yfu-usa.org, discussing the agency's early history from 1951-1978