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2020 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. 

2020 Innovation Competition Winners

Domestic Exchange: Creating Global Experiences for Undocumented/DACA Students – 1st Place Winner

Kevin Graham, UC San Diego

The UC San Diego Domestic Exchange Program provides undocumented/DACA students with access to domestic travel experiences. This program is designed to positively influence their personal development and career outlook. The Domestic Exchange Program is an essential initiative for undocumented/DACA students as their immigration status does not allow for international travel. Exposure to academic life at different institutions will enable students to self-reflect and gain perspective on how their identity mobilizes in different spaces (states, social groups, fields of study, etc.). These insights and experiences will have implications for students’ career development. Participants would have the opportunity to build a network and to further understand the impact of their immigration status.

Once the program commences, a cohort of UC San Diego, Undocumented/DACA students will have the opportunity to travel to New York State. Each student participant will be exposed to academic life at the University of Rochester for one academic quarter. Within the duration of this timeframe, students will take courses related to their interests and majors. They will also actively participate in a series of professional and personal development workshops. The funding from the Diversity Abroad Innovation competition allows UC San Diego to provide each student with a travel grant to cover the cost of health fees, airfare, ground transportation, and winter clothing.

Increasing Black Male Achievement through International Experience – 2nd Place Winner

Lavar Thomas, Co-founder – Leaders of the Free World (LFW)

Leaders of the Free World (LFW) is an international experience and leadership development program for young Black men (18-27). The program focuses on creating dynamic leaders through access to global engagement opportunities and personal development experiences. The program is funded through institutional contributions, small grants, and individual donors.

Currently, Black men make up just 2% of all US study abroad participants, so LFW works to remove barriers to participation. The program integrates the paradigm-shifting experience of short-term study abroad, with mentorship, an identity-based curriculum, and leadership development training. These components are designed to improve academic retention while developing each student’s confidence, potential, and leadership capacity.

While the trip to Ghana has been postponed to 2021 due to COVID-19, the funding from the Diversity Abroad Innovation competition will allow the Leaders of the Free World program to increase their impact domestically and internationally. The program plans to partner with institutions in the US and Ghana to expand their virtual platform for cross-cultural dialogue, and encourage more young Black men to build their leadership skills through global engagement and intercultural exchange. The funds will also be used to support the current LFW cohort.

STAMPED – The Study Abroad Podcast – 3rd Place Winner

Charis N. Tucker, Founder – Travel Gene LLC

STAMPED: The Study Abroad Podcast launched during International Education Week 2019. This podcast was designed with two audiences in mind: international educators and underrepresented students. For international educators, the goal of STAMPED was to move our conversation (about BIPOC participation) from deficits to one of determination. The stories shared on STAMPED illustrate how our guests overcame barriers to make their study abroad dream a reality. For students, the hope is that they see themselves represented in the stories our guests so openly share. STAMPED is the first major project of Travel Gene LLC, a boutique tourism research and consulting agency where Black travel research and study abroad intersect! Funding from the Diversity Abroad Innovation Completion will provide upgrades to podcast equipment, support enrollment in training designed specifically for podcast hosts, and begin the development of a professional development course for industry professionals. Tune into STAMPED at anchor.fm/STAMPED.

2020 Innovation Competition Presenters


Now in its 4th year, the Diversity Abroad Innovation Competition aims to support a culture of innovation and recognize new ideas and solutions that can create positive change, break down barriers, and provide access and support to diverse and underrepresented students.

Selected presenters will compete during the opening plenary of the 8th Annual Diversity Abroad Conference in New Orleans.  Presenters will be judged by a panel of experts in international education for awards of $1500 to $5000     

Learn about past recipients of the Innovation Competition here


The Innovation Competition is open to all individuals engaged in activities related to relevant areas of focus. Proposals submitted by a group of applicants are also encouraged. This competition is available to those representing various types of institutions and organizations, including but not limited to: K-12, higher education institutions, international education organizations, private sector companies, etc. Professionals as well as graduate & undergraduate students are encouraged to apply.


Completed applications will be reviewed based on the following criteria:

Innovative and/or creative qualities of the project

Potential direct impact of the proposed project on the field of global education

Applicant’s demonstrated interest in and/or expertise on the proposed topic


Competition Opens Monday, October 7, 2019

Proposal submission process open until Monday, December 2, 2019 11:59pm PST

Notifications sent during the week of December 16, 2019

Selected presenters register for the 8th Annual Conference by January 6, 2020

Selected presenters pitch their innovative project on March 15, 2020

The Innovation Competition is sponsored by CAPA: The Global Education Network