Young people all over the world are calling for change – but do they have the skills they need to create the change they want to see? Last month, AFS Intercultural Programs and the  University of Pennsylvania’s (Penn) Center for Social Impact Strategy (CSIS) launched a new online learning program, AFS Global You Changemaker, that teaches young people how to create social impact. 

Research studies show that young people are hungry for opportunities to change the world. The latest PISA Global Competence Assessment results, a global benchmark in education of 15-year-olds launched in October 2020, demonstrate that young people see the interconnectedness of the world; believe their behavior can have an impact; and 76% of them think of themselves as citizens of the world. However, according to PISA, young people could also be seen as pessimistic about their ability to make a difference and may be reluctant to take action or responsibility for tackling challenges that are present in their communities. 

The new AFS Global You Changemaker program provides a critical bridge in that gap between young people’s desires and skills. This 12-week online education program provides teens ages 15-17 from any country with an opportunity to develop their identities as active global citizens, connect with peers around the world, and learn strategies from experts to begin social impact projects in their communities. Upon successfully completing the program, which includes creating and testing a prototype social impact project, participants receive the Advanced Certificate on Global Citizenship for Social Impact issued by AFS and Penn’s Center for Social Impact Strategy. 

After decades of transforming lives and developing active global citizens through our intercultural programs, AFS partnered with the Center for Social Impact Strategy for their expertise in social innovation and social impact to create this unique online program. The University of Pennsylvania is an Ivy League University and one of the most prestigious educational institutions in the world. The two institutions have also worked together on leadership development and strengthening the curriculum of AFS’s study abroad programs

“Young people are very aware of and eager to tackle the challenges in their communities. We strongly believe this AFS program will give them the practical tools and the knowledge they need to make the world a better place. We are proud to join forces with Penn’s Center for Social Impact Strategy to launch this program, because of their expertise and long-standing track record in social innovation,” saysDaniel Obst, President and CEO of AFS Intercultural Programs.  

AFS Global You Changemaker is part of a suite of AFS online programs launched in 2020 to meet the growing demand for intercultural connections and learning in the pandemic times, when travel and in-person interactions are restricted. The first program in this series that focuses on the basics of building global competence, AFS Global You Adventurer, has already been completed by 300 teens from 40+ countries with a 94% overall satisfaction rate.


“It’s a great program that helps you open your mind to new ideas and perspectives, teaching you about topics and real-life examples you can put into practice at home, in your community and in the world. It has made me see the world with different eyes,” says one of the students who already completed the Global You Adventurer online program.

Through the new AFS Global You Changemaker, young people will understand fundamentals of global citizenship, social impact, and innovation, and turn their ideas for meaningful social impact into a usable prototype, testing it in the real world. Building a global network of changemakers, participants will feedback each other’s work and receive guidance from Penn and AFS experts.

The program is available to young people worldwide. There are four upcoming program start dates in 2021: March, June, September and November. For more information, please visit