Innovation Awards 2020: Winners & Finalists

Congratulations to the 2020 GoAbroad Innovation Awards Winners & Finalists!

2020 Innovation Award Winners:

Innovation in Crisis Response

WINNER: School for International Training (SIT), Operation Bring Our Students Home

In less than two weeks, School for International Training successfully carried out a worldwide operation – Operation Bring Our Students Home – to repatriate 920 undergraduate and graduate students from 56 program locations in response to the spread of the novel coronavirus. Many of these students were in remote locations, including the Amazon, the Himalaya, and in Ushuaia, Argentina, about to leave by boat for Antarctica. 

SIT paid up to $1,000 in students’ ticket change fees and sometimes more upon individual consideration. They reached out to donors and launched an online campaign to raise emergency relief funds; and formed a student hardship relief committee to review applications. At the same time, they committed to migrating all study abroad programs online within 10 days of their return so that students’ financial aid status would not be impacted by the change.

Congratulations, SIT!

Innovation in Online Programming

WINNER: The Hacker Exchange, Global Venture Exchange

The Global Venture Exchange was described as “A BOLD NEW CONCEPT: Three days, 11 countries, 30 speakers.” In response to travel bans, The Hacker Exchange created a new global experience for students: a literal ‘trip around the world’.

Held over a weekend in May 2020, the Global Venture Exchange (GVE) showcased innovation and startup ecosystems and stories, inspiring students to think about the future of work, learn mindsets for improved employability, build resilience to change, and to connect with international peers.

As well as partnering with industry speakers, The Hacker Exchange partnered with global startup leaders Draper Startup House, backed by investor Tim Draper, and aligned with entrepreneurship school Draper University in San Mateo.

Congratulations to The Hacker Exchange!

Innovation in Diversity

WINNER: Fund for Education Abroad, Fund for Education Abroad Access Partner Program 

The Fund for Education Abroad Access Partner Program (APP) is the first of its kind to bring competing organizations to one table with the goal of working together to diversify education abroad, and as a result, FEA has nearly doubled their capacity to give significant scholarships to underrepresented students because of this program.

The Access Partner Program now includes 10 program providers, two in-kind partners, and two international universities. Almost all of the partners are competitors, but the program gives them an opportunity to sit at one table and discuss how they can collaboratively increase diversity in study abroad. In 2019, the program contributed $340,000 to FEA, and they were able to give $650,000 total in scholarships to 166 underrepresented students.

Congratulations, Fund for Education Abroad!

Innovation in Marketing & Digital Media 

WINNER: African Impact Foundation, The “Imagine If…” Campaign

The African Impact Foundation elected their gender equality initiative, The Girl Impact, as the major fundraising focus for 2019 and launched a campaign over 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence.

It was called the “Imagine If” campaign, and was used as an awareness and fundraising campaign to challenge people’s thinking around what it is like to be a girl or a woman in the world today. Overall, the campaign raised $8700. The funds raised from the campaign have gone into building a community center in Livingstone, Zambia that will serve as a safe educational center for 300+ girls, women, boys, and men.

Congratulations to the African Impact Foundation!

Innovative New Program, Intern Abroad

WINNER: Roots Interns, Nonprofit Photography Internship in Cape Town 

The Nonprofit Photography Internship in Cape Town is a program that offers nonprofits high quality pictures of their programs; photographs that will allow for stronger and more effective awareness and fundraising campaigns. It’s also a program that offers a unique experience to interns, who can improve their skills, build a portfolio of images, and contribute to worthwhile causes at the same time.

During their stay in Cape Town, interns document the work of a number of charitable organisations that they feel passionate about. Causes supported include female empowerment, early childhood development, food security, sustainable development, and animal welfare. The impact of this program is truly twofold; it offers a unique and rewarding experience for interns, and highly valuable support to organisations doing important development work.

Congratulations, Roots Interns!

Innovative New Program, Study Abroad

WINNER: Gallaudet University, Sign Language of Spain (LSE) and Spanish Deaf Culture in Madrid

Gallaudet is the world’s only university dedicated to teaching, learning, and research in both English and American Sign Language and the university serves deaf, deafblind, and hard of hearing students. Most study abroad programs are not accessible to deaf students since the ADA does not apply outside the United States. In response, the university sought to build their own program (in collaboration with CIEE and leading members of the Madrid Deaf community affiliated with Madrid’s Complutense University’s Centro Hervás y Panduro, the Centro Educativo Ponce de León, and the Madrid-based Deaf Theater company “El Grito”) that provided full access for deaf students and had an itinerary that was designed with deaf culture in mind.

The program included a weekend trip to a deaf film festival in Valencia where students connected with deaf individuals from all over Europe. CIEE also helped to include other activities such as cooking lessons and museum trips, all of which were made accessible to deaf students. 

Congratulations, Gallaudet University!

Innovative New Program, Volunteer Abroad 

WINNER: Oceans 2 Earth Volunteers, Australian Wildlife Emergency Response & Wombat Refuge Initiative

This initiative was developed in response to the Australian Bushfire Crisis. Oceans 2 Earth Volunteers (O2E) provided support to starving and injured wildlife following the Corryong Fires in Australia with the launch of the Wildlife Emergency Response and Wombat Refuge international volunteering project in January 2020.

O2E donated $1700 from their Bushfire Appeal to purchase a commercial grade water pump and launched an initiative in three days mobilising volunteers to travel to Corryong to undertake activities addressing four focus areas: Wildlife support and forest regeneration, Wombat rehabilitation & care, Care for the carers, and Volunteer fee collection & distribution.

Congratulations, Oceans 2 Earth Volunteers!

Innovative Program, TEFL / Teach Abroad

WINNER: TravelBud, TEFL Certification and Paid Teaching Program in South Korea 

TravelBud has creatively developed a holistic paid teaching program in South Korea which includes the only in-person TEFL certification course available in Korea before one starts teaching at one’s school. What usually entails online training and commencing work as soon as one arrives in the country, TravelBud’s program focuses on a full month of in-person training and cultural immersion before participants begin teaching at their schools, to help their teachers acclimate to their new cultural environment and be fully prepared before stepping foot in the classroom.

TravelBud’s program includes job placements and also ensures the correct visas are arranged before arriving in the country. This allows for the smoothest transition into the country and ensures TravelBud’s teachers successfully immerse themselves into Korean culture and are fully prepared to provide the highest quality English language education to their students.

Congratulations, TravelBud!

Innovative Technology 

WINNER: CRCC Asia, CareerBridge, An Online Global Employability Curriculum

CareerBridge, an online professional development hub, was created to enhance a participant’s internship by targeting personal and professional growth within the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) career readiness competencies. The online curriculum offers 12 courses that complement the interns’ progression before, during, and after their internship. The courses are designed to help students understand employability outcomes through an international perspective with an emphasis on cultural and international working modules.

Due to the focus and support provided by CareerBridge in 2019, 90% of users strongly agreed that they can communicate easily and professionally in a global business environment. Career management is a key facet to the curriculum and program with 82% of CRCC Asia alumni having strong confidence in obtaining employment post-graduation.

Congratulations, CRCC Asia!

Innovation in Sustainability

WINNER: African Impact, Farmers of the Future 

Farmers of the Future is a business and entrepreneurship training program in the Greater Kruger Area of South Africa that looks to provide sustainable community empowerment through environmentally conscious food security and income generation. The training program runs for 18 months with weekly lessons divided into three phases, within which participants can access start-up funding.

Once the participant launches their own business, Farmers of the Future acts as a supply chain and branding marketplace. Creating a cooperative through the program alleviates the stress for the new businesses to find clients thus a more immediate revenue stream. The program is supported through African Impact’s Social Development and Entrepreneurship Internship. 

Farmers of the Future is a free program for participants in the rural communities. There are currently two operating facilities with a third being established as a collaboration between African Impact and local Tribal Council. The Council has recognised the program’s impact in the community and plans of large-scale implementation of the program are in process. 

Congratulations, African Impact!

Innovation in Philanthropy

WINNER: Globalteer, Pinagua Women’s Empowerment Project 

Taking care of family matters and constructing their own livelihood are deeply rooted concerns for women in Pinagua and they strongly desire financial independence. Globalteer worked closely with the women in Pinagua to identify what would be the best option for them to make an income and gain some control over their lives. They concluded that starting a business through raising guinea pigs would be appropriate work for them. With the help of a group of volunteers from WECO (a women’s empowerment group from the US), the first guinea pig houses were built in September 2019. The group also held workshops for the women to teach them skills to run and manage their businesses and finances.

Thanks to this project, the women will be able to have more control over their earnings and have a say in financial decisions in the household and are better able to support their families.

Congratulations, Globalteer!

Innovation in Alumni Engagement

WINNER: AIFS Study Abroad, Navigating Uncertainty: Resources for Thoughtfully Processing Your Time Abroad and Your Return

Angela Manginelli, Vice President, Director of Alumni & Inclusion Initiatives at AIFS Study Abroad

Knowing that all study abroad participants were drastically impacted by COVID-19 and would need additional support during this phase, AIFS created a new guide, Navigating Uncertainty: Resources for Thoughtfully Processing Your Time Abroad and Your Return, to help participants unpack the full experience they had and provide resources as they continue their return. AIFS also conducted a training for their entire staff to understand and experience the support they are offering to students so they can better speak about it with all stakeholders. The training is also being offered to university partners and invites them to schedule co-facilitated sessions for all of their spring 2020 participants.

Congratulations, AIFS Study Abroad!

Innovative Student Video

WINNER: “Thank You, Vietnam” by Jack Ross, International TEFL Academy

Congratulations, Jack Ross and International TEFL Academy!

People’s Choice

WINNER: TESOL Coach Master

TESOL Coach Master Team

Congratulations,  TESOL Coach Master!

Congratulations to all of this year’s winners! 

2020 Innovation Award Finalists:

Innovation in Crisis Response, sponsored by Travolucion

  1. School for International Training (SIT), Operation Bring Our Students Home
  2. Putney Student Travel, Climate Is Health
  3. Kristine Zamastil, David Vondra, and European Study Abroad Center (ESAC), Innovation in Program Continuation
  4. VCU da Vinci Center for Innovation, Healthcare Innovation Sprint
  5. David Comp & Jessica Oldford, International Higher Education Consulting Blog, IHEC Blog: Policies and Statements on Study Abroad Programs and International & Domestic Travel Due to COVID-19

Innovation in Online Programming

  1. Loop Abroad, 2020 Online Veterinary Programming
  2. CAPA: The Global Education Network, Flexible Choice Global Cities Programs
  3. Academic Experiences Abroad, Virtual Experiences Abroad: Virtual Speakers
  4. Pachaysana Institute, Rehearsing Change: Pachaysana’s Online Laboratory for Decolonizing Pedagogy
  5. The Hacker Exchange, Global Venture Exchange

Innovative TEFL / Teach Abroad Program

  1. Destination TEFL, Study & Teach: See Two Countries Packages
  2. Bridge Education Group, Teaching English Online TEFL/TESOL Certification Series
  3. Keningau Vocational College, Finders Solvers
  4. International TEFL Academy, Advanced Specialty TEFL Classes
  5. TravelBud, TEFL Certification and Paid Teaching Program in South Korea

Innovation in Diversity

  1. 360 International, University of Auckland, 4-week Indigenous History and Rights in Brazil
  2. Stockton University Office of Global Engagement, Take Me Out My Element
  3. Barcelona SAE, Celebrating Black History in the US and Spain
  4. CEA Study Abroad, UC San Diego & CEA Study Abroad: Paris Summer 2019 Sign Language Custom Program
  5. Fund for Education Abroad, Fund for Education Abroad Access Partner Program

Innovation in Marketing & Digital Media, sponsored by Travolucion

  1. Trinity College Dublin: Tangent, Trinity’s Ideas Workspace, Postgraduate Certificate in Creative & Culture Entrepreneurship Marketing Campaign
  2. Northwestern University Global Learning Office, #GLOVicariously
  3. African Impact Foundation, The “Imagine If…” Campaign
  4. University of California Education Abroad Program, UCEAP’s Student-First Website
  5. Virtual Internships, Navigating the Experiential Learning Triangle

Innovative New Program – Intern Abroad

  1. Roots Interns, Nonprofit Photography Internship in Cape Town
  2. World Endeavors, Media Internship in Spain
  3. Intern Abroad HQ, Medical Internships in Athens
  4. CRCC Asia, Combining Business with Engineering, A Case for Cross University Collaboration
  5. Capital Placement, Sustainable Paid Internships in London

Innovative New Program – Study Abroad

  1. Global Engagement, University of California Santa Cruz, Art in a Global Context
  2. Gallaudet University, Sign Language of Spain (LSE) and Spanish Deaf Culture in Madrid
  3. SAI Programs and Auburn University, SAI & Auburn University: Biomechanics & Engineering in the Arts
  4. International Field Studies, Forfar Marine Science Program
  5. Michigan State University, Race, Culture, and Garifuna Populations: Caribbean History in St. Vincent and the Grenadines Spring Break Program

Innovative New Program – Volunteer Abroad

  1. International Volunteer HQ, Volunteer in Jordan Program
  2. Pod Volunteer, Community Development Project in Ghana
  3. Oceans 2 Earth Volunteers, Australian Wildlife Emergency Response & Wombat Refuge Initiative
  4. Kaya Responsible Travel, Belize Enchanted Forest Art Therapy Volunteering Placement
  5. GoEco, Family-Friendly Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation

Innovative Technology, sponsored by Fund My Travel

  1. Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE), Know Before You Go Pre-departure Canvas LMS Course
  2. Premier TEFL, TEFL Mobile App
  3. IFSA, IFSA CHART: An Academic Resource Tool
  4. OffWeGo, OffWeGo
  5. CRCC Asia, CareerBridge, An Online Global Employability Curriculum

Innovation in Sustainability

  1. FIE: Foundation for International Education, FIE Carbon Offsetting Initiative
  2. USAC, Sustainability Internships in Costa Rica
  3. Global Experiences, Green Initiative: Big Steps, Small Footprints
  4. African Impact, Farmers of the Future
  5. Champlain Abroad Dublin Campus, Shop Local in The Liberties, Dublin Initiative

Innovation in Philanthropy, sponsored by the GoAbroad Foundation

  1. Absolute Internship, Absolute Internship Fundraising Initiative
  2. Therapy Abroad, Giving Belize a Voice
  3. Refugee Welfare Association Cameroon, Training Lawyers on Migrant Rights
  4. Globalteer, Pinagua Women’s Empowerment Project
  5. The TEFL Org, United World Schools Partnership to Support UWS Krang Chek School in Cambodia

Innovation in Alumni Engagement

  1. SAI Programs, Virtual Viva Experience
  2. University of South Carolina, Global Gamecock Guides
  3. CIS Abroad, Alumni Ambassador Training & Professional Development Workshop
  4. ISA Alumni Relations Department, Global Community Series
  5. AIFS Study Abroad, Navigating Uncertainty: Resources for Thoughtfully Processing Your Time Abroad and Your Return

Innovative Student Video


  1. Teaching with IVHQ – Bali 2020” by Dominic Erbacher, International Volunteer HQ
  2. Shelby: My Study Abroad Experience in Copenhagen” by Shelby, Barnard College, DIS Study Abroad
  3. Sydney LeGrett | Australia | ISA Video Contest Winter 2020” by Sydney LeGrett, ISA Abroad
  4. Thank You, Vietnam“by Jack Ross,  International TEFL Academy
  5. Every Second” by Alexandra Hanson, IES Abroad

People’s Choice


  1. Premier TEFL
  2. TESOL Coach Master
  3. API Abroad
  4. Teaching Nomad
  5. Evolve Abroad

Special thanks to our 2020 Silver Sponsor, StudentUniverse.

Special thanks to our 2020 Award Sponsors!

fund my travel
goabroad foundation