Community Connection's predecessor, Business for Russia, began in 1994 and programmed over 1,300 Russian entrepreneurs to the United States over a two-year period.

Participants in the business program were required to have a professional level of English so they could function in an intense hands-on internship with American companies without the use of an interpreter.

Many of the participants returned to Russia and continued to keep in contact with their new American colleagues and friends. Several of these participants have signed joint-ventures with companies they either worked with, or were introduced to, during the program.

In 1996, because of the success of Business for Russia, the program was expanded to include Ukraine and Moldova. At the same time, the program's name was changed to Community Connections, and a decision was made to include other professionals in the program.

Unlike the business program, legal, local government and other professionals were not required to speak English. Local community organizations identified and hired local interpreters qualified in the language of the participants.

In 1997, the program was expanded again to include the NIS countries of Belarus, Armenia and Georgia. Professional fields were also expanded to meet the priority areas identified by the American Embassy in the respective country. Professional fields included legal reform, environmental policy, agriculture, and NGO development.

In 1999, Community Connections hosted participants from seven NIS countries: Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Moldova, Russia and Ukraine.

Business for Russia and its successor, Community Connections, have hosted more than 7,000 participants from the NIS since 1994.

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