Addressing global sustainability challenges requires engaging diverse young people in every corner of the world. To this end, the AFS Global STEM Changemakers Initiative aims to provide immersive learning experiences through STEM, global competence, and sustainability-focused intercultural exchange programs for over 5,000 young people and educators worldwide.

The Initiative includes 610 full scholarships for two distinct global, virtual exchange programs in 2024: Global STEM Accelerators (for young women) and Global STEM Educators (for teachers), designed to facilitate pathways to sustainability education, global competence, and social impact.

Global STEM Accelerators: Empowering Young Women in STEM

Systemic barriers hold young women back from accessing quality education globally – especially women of color and refugees. This gender gap is notably prominent in the STEM fields, in which women make up only 34% of the workforce globally.

AFS seeks to break down these gender barriers with the Global STEM Accelerators: a 100% full-scholarship, virtual exchange program that unites young women (ages 15-17.5) around the world to foster social impact and empower them to become changemakers. 20% of spots are earmarked for young women from refugee and displaced populations.

Accelerators scholars earn the Advanced Certificate on Global Competence for Social Impact, from AFS and the University of Pennsylvania Center for Social Impact Strategy. Scholars join the AFS Global STEM alumni community for continued learning, networking, and mentorship opportunities; Select scholars may be invited to participate in the AFS Youth Assembly in New York City, an annual global gathering of young people actively addressing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Now in its third year, the Accelerators program has welcomed 543 scholars from 90 countries to date.

Applications for 360 Accelerators scholarships in 2024 are open 1 February – 17 March. Learn more here.

Global STEM Educators: Equipping Teachers for Sustainability Education

Educators are central to fostering global citizenship and sustainability education, and studies show that practicing sustainability in the classroom increases students’ interest in the environment, positively impacts student well-being, and improves critical thinking skills.

The Global STEM Educators, a full-scholarship virtual exchange program, convenes secondary-level teachers of STEM subjects, around the world, who are keen to bridge sustainability and global competence in their classrooms and beyond.

Participants examine intercultural issues in education, explore resources for teaching about sustainability and global citizenship, and develop ideas to foster understanding in multicultural environments. Educators earn the AFS Global Competence Certificate, an official digital credential badge, and access to the AFS Educators alumni network. Now in its second year, the Educators program has welcomed 50 diverse teachers from 40 countries so far.

Applications for 250 Educators scholarships in 2024 are open 1 February – 17 March. Learn more here.

Award-winning impact and reach

The AFS Global STEM Changemakers Initiative has earned AFS several distinctions in international education, including The PIE’s (Professionals in International Education) PIEoneer of the Year Award, celebrating program innovation and achievement, as well as Diversity Abroad’s Excellence in Diversity & Inclusion in International Education (EDIIE) Award, honoring organizational advancements towards diversity, inclusivity, and community outreach.

AFS brings decades of expertise in impact-driven educational exchange and the power of a global network. “Skills like cross-cultural communication, empathy, and conflict resolution are mission-critical for our world. Educating more young people to become global citizens is crucial if we want to create a more sustainable future. We are delighted to advance our shared commitment to more equitable education,” says Daniel Obst, President and CEO of AFS Intercultural Programs.

The initiative, launched in 2022 and set to span through 2026, is run by AFS, with funding from bp, a global integrated energy company. Bp supports this initiative to help build the STEM talent the world needs to create sustainable solutions and to improve the diversity of talent in STEM.

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About AFS

AFS Intercultural Programs is a global not-for-profit network that provides intercultural learning opportunities to help people develop the knowledge, skills and understanding needed to create a more just and peaceful world. Through international exchange programs, education initiatives, volunteerism and advocacy, AFS empowers people from all backgrounds with essential global skills—and the passion for making a difference. AFS Intercultural Programs leverages the power and reach of 56 National AFS Organizations working together to accelerate local, global and collective impact.

About bp

bp’s purpose is to reimagine energy for people and our planet. It has set out an ambition ‎to be a ‎net zero company by 2050 or sooner, to help the world transition to net zero, and a ‎strategy for ‎delivering on that ambition.