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Innovation Competition

The Diversity Abroad Innovation Competition, sponsored by CAPA The Global Education Network,  brings together professionals and students with creative and outstanding ideas and programs that advance diversity and inclusive excellence in global education. Both students and professionals are eligible to participate in the Innovation Competition. 

The 2019 Innovation Competition took place at the 7th annual Diversity Abroad Conference in Boston, MA. Seven outstanding presenters pitched their ideas to a panel of judges. The following recipients are the winners of the 2019 Innovation  Competition. Inspired by their stories? Next year’s competition will open in the fall of 2019. Sign up here to receive updates.


The 2019 Innovation Competition Winners:

Teens of Color Abroad — 1st Place Winner & People’s Choice Award
Lamar Shambley, Founder, Teens of Color Abroad

Teens of Color Abroad is a non-profit initiative whose mission is to cultivate the next generation of globally conscious youth of color through language immersion study abroad programs. There is extensive research on the long-lasting academic, social, and professional benefits of studying abroad, yet, students of color, especially Black students, have been excluded from this experience. Our aim is to confront this racial disparity in college study abroad participation earlier by providing high school students of color, who are enrolled in foreign language courses, with culturally immersive language training programs that enhance global competency skills and mindsets.

In a partnership with Centro MundoLengua, a private international language school and educational tour operator, TOCA facilitates programs in Seville, Spain for groups of U.S. high school students of color. The scholars will take 3 hours of small group daily language instruction, live with a local homestay family, and participate in engaging cultural activities such as visits to historic museums and palaces, salsa and flamenco dance lessons, kayaking the Guadalquivir River, paella cooking workshops, and much more. Part of our curriculum is centered around the PISA Global Competency Framework which will provide a foundation for intercultural conversations between our participants and their homestay families. Prior to departure and upon returning from our trip, students will organize and run a series of “Bingo!” nights for the Spanish-speaking members of the Carter Burden Network, a New York City-based nonprofit leading the way in aging services. Learning to participate in interconnected, complex, and diverse societies is a necessity in 21st-century education. Young people want to engage with the world, but lack the resources. TOCA provides a unique opportunity that gives underrepresented youth a globally informed perspective while bolstering their linguistic skills.

Indigenous Storytelling from the Amazon: Reimagining Diversity and Inclusion from the Grassroots  – 2nd Place Winner
Daniel Bryan, Executive Director, Pachasanya

Pachaysana is an Ecuadorian non-profit organization that creates intercultural education and study abroad programs with indigenous and other underrepresented communities of the Amazon and Andes. Over the years, we have learned that to truly break down barriers that systematically exclude marginalized communities, it is imperative to rethink diversity from the epistemological point of view. How we see and approach Diversity and Inclusion on our college campuses is shaped by a Eurocentric epistemology, excluding multiple ways of knowing and being that surely need to be integrated. This project reverses the dominant trajectory of the Diversity Abroad conversation. It grounds the center of knowledge creation in Amazon communities of Ecuador and then disseminates it to universities and study abroad organizations, encouraging them to rethink how they understand and operationalize diversity on their campuses or in their programs.

This project takes Pachaysana’s Team and students from the “Uni-Diversidades” office of the University San Francisco de Quito (USFQ) to two indigenous Amazon communities that have experience working with Pachaysana’s study abroad programming. During 2-week residencies in each community the team works to convert indigenous epistemologies into a performance and workshop. The community members then travel to Quito where they share with USFQ and other in-country study abroad programs with the goal of influencing their policies, curricula and pedagogies. The same workshop/performance will be offered at international student orientations, resulting in no less than 800 students, faculty and staff that will have access to the program during the academic year. Finally, Pachaysana and USFQ will create workshop videos and manuals in order to make the experience available to educational institutions abroad, especially USFQ’s 100+ international university partners around the world.  

Rhode Island Global Education Project  – 3rd Place Winner

Becky Spritz, PhD – Professor of Psychology and Public Health, Roger Williams University  (RI)

Conor Largey – Student Youthworker St. Peters Immaculata Youth Club (Belfast, Northern Ireland)

Rev. Glenn Grayson – Executive Director, The Center that Cares (PA)

In Rhode Island, largely Latin X youth living in the Urban Core—Providence, Pawtucket, Central Falls, Woonsocket, and Newport—lack access to experiential education programs known to improve academic, social, and emotional outcomes. Our vision is to reduce the achievement gap in Rhode Island by creating a coalition of educators, philanthropists, and community leaders, and create a formal model to provide youth in the Urban Core unique opportunities for global youth education.

Building on previous scalable global education innovations from Belfast, Northern Ireland and Pittsburgh, PA, Amizade will partner with Highlander Charter School to pilot a project for young people to engage and learn from the world. The first project will involve a small group of Rhode Island youth taking part in a full semester of pre-activities for high school students (mentored by university professors), followed by a brief summer immersion to Northern Ireland, and completed with a social action community project that the young people will create and implement in Providence on return, with actual project funding.

The power and innovation in this model is in transforming global education from being viewed as a luxury, to being viewed as a necessary experience in all young people’s education. The main goal, therefore, is to ensure that like math and science, global education gets a place in policymakers minds for being part of the building blocks of creating the next generation of Americans. At every turn of this pilot project, Rhode Island political and education leaders will be hearing stories and being exposed to the research. The end game is a formalization of innovative global education practices and more equitable opportunities in high schools not only in Rhode Island, but all over the country.

The 2019 Innovation Competition Presenters:

Catalyst Chicago: Service Learning and Community Engagement Program
Tessa Zanoni, Assistant Director, Office of International Affairs, North Park University

The Culture and Identity Envoy Project : Rome
Ewan Wayne Johnson, Student, Temple University

Empowering Diversity in the Fulbright Program
Fulbright Grantee and Alumni Advisor Board of Europe
Desmond Moffitt, Executive Director

Indigenous Storytelling from the Amazon: Reimagining Diversity and Inclusion from the Grassroots
Daniel Bryan, Executive Director, Pachasanya

Issues of Disability, Inclusion, and Accessibility: Locally and Globally
Alexis McKenney, Professor and Recreational Therapy Program Director, Temple University

Rhode Island Global Education Project
Becky Spritz, PhD – Professor of Psychology and Public Health, Roger Williams University (Providence, RI)
Conor Largey – Student Youthworker St. Peters Immaculata Youth Club (Belfast, Northern Ireland)
Rev. Glenn Grayson – Executive Director, The Center that Cares (Pittsburgh, PA)

Teens of Color Abroad
Lamar Shambley, Founder, Teens of Color Abroad

These seven teams presented their ideas during the opening plenary of the 7th Annual Diversity Abroad Conference for awards of $5000 (1st place), $3000 (2nd place), and $1500 (3rd place). A panel of experts from international education judged the competition.

The Innovation Competition will be sponsored by CAPA The Global Education Network