2023 Innovation Award Finalists & Winners

Thank you and congratulations to the 2023 GoAbroad Innovation Award winners!

Innovative Technology

And the winner is… 

The Community-Based Global Learning Collaborative, The Interdependence: Global Solidarity and Local Actions Toolkit

The Interdependence: Global Solidarity and Local Actions Toolkit is an open-access and co-created collective on-line learning, teaching and sharing initiative to bring together educators, organizers and learners who all share a commitment to building more just, inclusive, and sustainable communities. It both opens possibilities to reimagine global learning and to embrace the truth of interdependence which calls us toward new kinds of civic, ecological, and global understanding. 

The Toolkit is deliberately structured as an evolving project and new pages are regularly being added, but it does embody several themes. These include a commitment to our planet and shared humanity, better understood through the lens of interdependence; Humility and Polyvocality; the recognition that ideas, concepts, and opportunities for action are most tangible at interpersonal and local levels and a commitment to participatory and public scholarship.

The pages are designed so that facilitators and learners can engage with them at their own pace, or along a set timeline; both synchronously and asynchronously. 

The creation of the Toolkit highlights what can begin to happen when we work in community, with shared purpose, while recognizing the diversity of expertise, backgrounds, identities and experiences of all people – particularly those members within communities who are silenced and marginalized.

Congratulations to The Community-Based Global Learning Collaborative!

Innovation in Alumni Engagement

And the winner is… 

CEA CAPA Education Abroad, Passport: A Gamification Platform for Alumni Ambassadors

CEA CAPA launched a new gamification hub, Passport, for their Alumni Ambassadors in September of 2022. Passport is a centralized location for alumni to receive training and professional mentorship for their ambassador role, while also engaging in guided study abroad reflection and game-based projects. 

Because the hub is gamified, students earn badges and rewards for their progress and achievements, which allows CEA CAPA to further leverage their alumni’s enthusiasm while also building a reentry experience that keeps the learning cycle going post-study abroad. 

As CEA CAPA discovers more about their Ambassadors through their unique hub engagement, it better positions them to connect future students with alumni who share knowledge and identity areas – creating a better experience for both students and alums. 

Since its launch, more than 170 students and alumni have joined Passport and completed 3000+ tasks within the hub that span training and knowledge building, content creation, social media advocacy, community engagement, and student outreach. In March of 2023 CEA CAPA expanded Passport to provide access to all alumni.

Congratulations, CEA CAPA Education Abroad!

Innovation in Diversity

And the winner is…

Global Glimpse, Commitment to Diversity and Equity

Global Glimpse has worked to make powerful travel opportunities accessible to high school students from all backgrounds. They center diversity and equity in everything they do and have worked tirelessly to build back through the pandemic. Although travel is coming back, the gap in who has access to these types of experiences has only widened through the pandemic and Global Glimpse recognizes that their work and mission is more important now than ever as they work to make international travel more accessible to low-income high schools and students across the US. 

According to studies, of the 15 million students enrolled in high school, less than 1% of students study abroad and of that 1%, 80% identify as white with family incomes over $150k per year.

Global Glimpse has partnered with over 100 different public high schools serving majority low-income communities and provided over $14M in need-based travel scholarships to provide over 8,000 high school students with the opportunity to travel internationally, many for the first time. 

80% of their students identify as BIPOC with the majority coming from families reporting incomes of $70k per year or less. They also partner with schools that serve more affluent families and purposely design their travel groups to bring together high school students from different racial and socioeconomic backgrounds, so the students are learning as much from each other as they do from international countries, cultures, and communities they are immersed in on their trips.

Congratulations, Global Glimpse!

Innovation in Sustainability

And the winner is… 

Pacific Discovery, Te Haerenga

The Pacific Discovery ‘Te Haerenga’ program in New Zealand is an innovative first for a GAP year program to partner with a marine debris organization that is effecting change in the microplastics world.

The program partners exclusively with ‘Litter Intelligence’, an NGO focused on performing marine debris clean-ups to a specific methodology to input into a national database and generate statistics to be used in policy change. Their statistics thus far have effected national change like a ban on plastic straws and plastic bags.

In the first few days of the Te Haerenga program, students have a day of training with Litter Intelligence staff to become “Lead Citizen Scientists” to learn the correct methodology needed for a marine debris collection to be accurately recorded in the national database. With this qualification, students can then organize and lead their own marine debris clean ups. They then have to plan and execute a set of marine clean-ups as they travel through the remainder of the program.

Te Haerenga in Maori means “The Journey”, and so in addition to the sailing and canoeing journeys over water present in the program, Pacific Discovery sees this as a journey for each student in understanding their daily effects on marine debris issues, and how they can be a part of the solution.

Congratulations to Pacific Discovery!

Innovation in Philanthropy (Sponsored by the GoAbroad Foundation)

And the winner is… 

University of the People, Scholarships for Earthquake Impacted Turkish and Syrian Students

To help the Turkish and Syrian people recover from the recent earthquake that seriously damaged or destroyed many of the universities in the region, University of the People (UoPeople) is providing 1,000 scholarships to students from the impacted area so they can continue their education online. UoPeople currently enrolls around 14,000 students from Turkey and Syria in its English and Arabic divisions.

UoPeople is the first non-profit, tuition-free, American, accredited, online university. Dedicated to opening access to higher education globally, UoPeople helps high school graduates overcome financial, geographic, political, and personal constraints keeping them from college studies. 

UoPeople was founded in 2009 and accredited in February 2014. The University offers certificates, associate and bachelor’s degree programs in Business Administration, Computer Science, and Health Science as well as master’s degree programs in Business Administration, Information Technology, and Education. 

University of the People in Arabic was launched in 2020, offering associate and bachelor’s degrees in Business Administration, while simultaneously providing these Arabic-speaking students intensive English-language courses. There presently are more than 126,000 students enrolled from more than 200 countries and territories. Over 16,500 of these students are refugees.

Congratulations, University of the People!

Innovation in Marketing & Digital Media (Sponsored by Travolucion)

And the winner is… 

University Studies Abroad Consortium (USAC), See Yourself Studying Abroad

USAC’s “See Yourself” (or See Who You’ll Become) campaign was designed to have students literally put themselves into an international education space. Launched for USAC’s 40th anniversary event, which was held on the campus of the University of Nevada, Reno, USAC used VR Meta headsets preloaded with tours of their program cities, putting students directly into an international space, where they could “see themselves” experiencing the sights, sounds, and feel for themselves. 

USAC extended the idea with a photo booth preloaded with program city photos, so students could see themselves on an eco trip next to a waterfall in San Ramón, a wat in Thailand, and so on. Students received email and text event invitations leading to a webpage explaining that they could put themselves into a study abroad space literally, eat program-country snacks, and ask questions of advisors and peers in the process. 

USAC also included facts about accessibility to study abroad, especially for marginalized students, who might never have seen themselves studying abroad as a realistic possibility. 

They also had University of Nevada, Reno student groups, academic groups, and administrative accounts act as social media “influencers” surrounding the “See Yourself” campaign, which continues at the advising office with posters showing now-alumni in photos shot from the back, allowing potential students to “step into” the photo as though they’re seeing themselves in the international landscape.

Congratulations, USAC!

Innovative Volunteer Abroad Program  

And the winner is… 

United Planet, Volunteer to Support Ukrainian Refugees in Moldova

United Planet Founder & President, Dave Santulli, traveled to Moldova to set up a program with a local partner to help with the Ukrainian refugee crisis in March 2022. In early April, United Planet launched a program to receive volunteers in Moldova to support Ukrainian refugees. Volunteers are able to travel to Moldova from two weeks to one year. After thorough assessment of the situation in the country with their Moldovan partner, United Planet was able to determine the areas of need with local NGOs which are supporting the Ukrainian refugee crisis.

United Planet’s volunteer program for Ukrainian refugees in Moldova stands out as an exceptional Volunteer Abroad Program as it is addressing a pressing global issue, provides holistic support, focuses on cultural immersion and exchange, skill development, sustainable impact, innovative solutions and inclusiveness.

United Planet volunteers assist with both hands-on support in providing supplies and donations to Ukrainian refugees as well as administrative and logistical support in providing guidance with relocation, job placement, and legal matters.

Congratulations, United Planet!

Innovative Intern Abroad Program

And the winner is… 

Connect-123 Global Internship Programs, Pediatric Healthcare Internship Program in South Africa

Connect-123’s Pediatric Healthcare Internship Program in Cape Town, South Africa offers allied health professions students a rare opportunity to participate in an immersive internship experience abroad.

The program is designed to meet the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs requirements and allows students from diverse disciplines and backgrounds the opportunity to contribute and learn in various pediatric settings, including hospitals, schools for children with disabilities, hospice care, adaptive sports, music therapy, and animal-assisted therapy. 

Taking children’s developmental and cultural needs into consideration, internship participants increase their knowledge and skills surrounding best practices, trauma-informed care for the pediatric population, and interdisciplinary collaboration, while helping children cope with the challenges of hospitalization, illness, and disability.

Supervised onsite by qualified pediatric healthcare professionals, complementing the internship experience, the program offers weekly workshops on themes such as cultural humility, trauma-informed care, and the unique culture and healthcare system of South Africa. Students are also provided feedback on their daily reflections and other written assignments, in peer-to-peer and 1:1 feedback sessions.

Congratulations, Connect-123!

Innovative Study Abroad Program (Sponsored by MedJet)

And the winner is…

University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and CEA CAPA Education Abroad, Black Lives Matter: A Global Comparative Study

In 2021, the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee was awarded the IDEAS (Increase and Diversify Education Abroad for US Students) grant by the US Department of State. Through this grant, UWM designed a co-taught course with an affordable and accessible study abroad component focusing on the Black experience in the US and the UK. CEA CAPA’s intentional and customized program offerings in London and commitment to justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion ensured a strong partnership with UWM and an impactful study abroad experience for both students and faculty.

Careful consideration and collaboration with the study abroad office led to the decision of the program being offered in London. A global and diverse city, London offered the opportunity to expand the themes of democracy, human rights, and racial justice that were taught in the course. CEA CAPA’s current work with the Wrongful Conviction London summer program provided staff with the knowledge and understanding of the intentional themes and topics discussed across this program.

To supplement the Comparative Global Study course taught by two UWM faculty, CEA CAPA curated experiential learning opportunities throughout London to allow students and faculty to delve deeper into the curriculum and the Black experience in the UK. “Traditional” walking tours and site visits detailing the history of London and the UK instead focused on the deeply ingrained history of the Black community and how it has, and is continuing, to shape British history and culture. 

In collaboration with UWM faculty, local guest lecturers took the reins to enhance the course’s connection with the local community. British guest speakers came from various backgrounds, including human rights campaigners, activists, and multidisciplinary artists. CEA CAPA included site visits that were representative of the “now” in the Black community—including a trip to the Transforming Legacies exhibition hosted by Black Cultural Archives in Brixton.

Congratulations to the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and CEA CAPA Education Abroad!

Innovative TEFL / Teach Abroad Program

And the winner is…

Na’atik Language and Culture Institute, English Program

Teaching English at the Na’atik Language and Culture Institute in the small off the beaten track Mexican town of Felipe Carrillo Puerto is a truly unique experience. Na’atik is a culturally sustainable, non-profit organization embedded in the local Mexican-Maya community, which offers teachers the opportunity to become a part of a genuine intercultural family of language enthusiasts.

The school’s priority is to provide heavily-subsidized English language classes and cultural experiences to underserved students in the city and the surrounding Maya communities. This endeavor is partially funded through the MaS (Maya and Spanish) Immersion Program, which brings foreign students to the school to learn Mexican Spanish and Yucatec Maya and experience the culture of the region through homestays and excursions. 

The program is also partly-funded through donations, and offers almost 25 percent of local students scholarships, ensuring access for those most in need (more than 70% of the community live under the poverty line). A key part of the school culture is ensuring both the local English program and the foreign MaS Immersion Program work together to enrich the learning environment for all students, which is promoted through intercultural activities run through a bilingual lending library and activity hub.

Congratulations, Na’atik Language and Culture Institute!

Innovative Student Video

And the winner is…

IES Abroad, “Not My Life” by Clarence A. !

Congratulations to IES Abroad and Clarence A.!

People’s Choice

And the winner is… International TEFL Academy!

Special 2023 Humanitarian Award

This year we were also pleased to present a special Humanitarian Award from the GoAbroad Foundation. The award was presented to John Lawler, Founder of Madventurer and the MAD Foundation which has built and is operating Operation Safe Drop to support relief efforts in Ukraine.

Presented by Troy Peden, who said, “This is not a celebration but an acknowledgement that we have a shared humanity, that we all want to find hope in a hopeless situation and that we are grateful to those who provide that hope. Thank you, John Lawler.”

A special video was also shared during the event:

2023 GoAbroad Innovation Award Finalists

Innovation in Diversity

  1. AFS-USA, Faces of America Scholarship Program
  2. CulturaGo, DEI Modules
  3. Global Glimpse, Commitment to Diversity and Equity
  4. Merze Tate Explorers, Young, Black, and Abroad: Girls Can!
  5. Teach Away, Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice Symposium & Job Fair

Innovation in Marketing & Digital Media 

  1. ISI Abroad, The Umbra Institute, The Umbra Podcast: Run by Students, for Students
  2. University Studies Abroad Consortium (USAC), See Yourself Studying Abroad
  3. The TEFL Org, I Taught English Abroad podcast
  4. WorldStrides, Changing Lives through Education Abroad
  5. EF Gap Year, A Parent’s Perspective

Innovative Intern Abroad Program

  1. Indo Ocean Project, Indo Ocean Project Internship
  2. Connect-123 Global Internship Programs, Pediatric Healthcare Internship Program in South Africa
  3. CIS Abroad, Intern in Chiang Mai with Working Across Cultures Micro-credential
  4. The Science Exchange Internship Program, Sea Turtle Research Internships
  5. TravelBud, Thailand Summer Paid Internship

Innovative Study Abroad Program

  1. Carpe Diem Education, Semester in Italy & Greece: Climate Change: Resilience and Regeneration
  2. Future Food Institute / Future Food Academy, Food & Climate Shaper In-Person Boot Camp
  3. CEA CAPA Education Abroad and University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Black Lives Matter: A Global Comparative Study (Custom Program in partnership with the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee)
  4. WorldStrides, Fiji Scholar Games
  5. Immerse Education, Academic Insights Sydney

Innovative Volunteer Abroad Program

  1. African Conservation Experience, The Ultimate Personalized Gap Year Experience
  2. Global Leadership Adventures, Dominican Republic: Caribbean Sea Conservation Project
  3. United Planet, Volunteer to Support Ukrainian Refugees in Moldova
  4. Rescue P.A.W.S. Thailand, Animal Welfare Volunteer Educator Program
  5. Projects Abroad, Rhino Conservation in Nepal

Innovative TEFL / Teach Abroad Program

  1. International TEFL Academy, Lifetime Job Search Guidance for Teaching English Abroad & Online
  2. XploreAsia, Teach in Thailand Program
  3. Virginia Commonwealth University, VCU’s English Language Program TEFL Certificate
  4. Destination TEFL, TEFL internship in Spain and Job placement in Southeast Asia
  5. Na’atik Language and Culture Institute, Na’atik Language and Culture Institute English Program

Innovative Technology 

  1. Terra Dotta, Global Engagement Platform Launch
  2. The Community-based Global Learning Collaborative, The Interdependence: Global Solidarity and Local Actions Toolkit
  3. WorldKind, Traveler Trainer PROgram
  4. Mindhamok, Changing the mental health game of staff and students of Study Abroad
  5. Olii App, First Social App for International Students

Innovation in Sustainability 

  1. African Education Program (AEP), Reproductive Health Access Initiative (RHAI)
  2. Pacific Discovery, Te Haerenga
  3. Accademia Europea di Firenze, Embedding Sustainability Inside and Outside the Classroom
  4. Keningau Vocational College, It’s Okay: Tackling Mental Health Through Socioemotional Learning
  5. The GREEN Program, The GREEN Program study abroad programs

Innovation in Philanthropy 

  1. University of Maryland, School of Public Policy, Do Good Institute, Do Good Challenge
  2. Scholar Rescue Fund, Institute of International Education, Scholar Rescue Fund
  3. Indiana University, Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, Global Philanthropy Environment Index
  4. Australian Volunteers, Innovation Hub
  5. University of the People (UoPeople), Scholarships for Earthquake Impacted Turkish and Syrian Students

Innovation in Alumni Engagement 

  1. All Hands and Hearts, Alumni engagement strategy
  2. Embry-Riddle Office of Global Engagement and the ERAU Alumni Office, Alumni Eagle Explorers
  3. CEA CAPA Education Abroad, Passport: A Gamification Platform for Alumni Ambassadors
  4. CulturaGo, Alumni Video Testimonials
  5. Asia Exchange, Ambassador Program

Innovative Student Video – VOTE NOW!

  1. Putney Student Travel, “France 2022” by Hannah M.
  2. CIS Abroad, “Japan” by Mikey Johanson
  3. IES Abroad, “Not My Life” by Clarence A. 
  4. Premier TEFL, “Why I Chose to Teach in South Korea” by Madelyn Osborne
  5. IFSA, “Achieving Your Goals While Abroad” by Serena Munro

People’s Choice Award – VOTE NOW!

  2. International TEFL Academy
  3. Pacific Discovery
  4. IES Abroad
  5. Maximo Nivel