UNC’s Global Gap Year Fellowship Expands in Partnership with Global Citizen Year

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Today the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill announced an exciting new partnership with Global Citizen Year that will help the University keep up with the growing demands of students who seek long-term, transformative gap year experiences abroad. Resources from an anonymous donor will enable the University to triple the number of students in its Global Gap Year Fellowship (GGYF) program, growing the cohort from seven to 21 Fellows per year by 2020.


UNC is nationally recognized as a university that encourages and values gap years. UNC’s GGYF was launched in 2011 as a partnership between the Campus Y, UNC’s hub for social justice and innovation, and UNC’s Office of Undergraduate Admissions. This innovative program was only the second university-supported gap year in US higher education — and the only one to subsidize self-designed gap years and specifically recruit first generation college students, lower income youth, and students of color. Since its inception, GGYF has supported 53 first-year students as they deferred their acceptance at Carolina and designed high-impact gap years around public service and social justice abroad.


“Our students are eager to engage with the world – as scholars, volunteers, and interns,” says Richard Harrill, director of UNC’s Campus Y and the designer of the Global Gap Year Fellowship. “We believe service-based gap years align well with our values as a public university. And they prepare a rising generation of young leaders with the professional skills and intercultural competencies our North Carolina economy demands.”


The program partnership enables students selected as Global Gap Year Fellows to choose one of two tracks: the ‘design-your-own’ 6 to 10 month service experience abroad with support from the GGYF team in Chapel Hill, or pursue an extended community immersion experience with Global Citizen Year. Offering these two options will help Fellows and their families access the model that best supports their learning goals and preferences.


Abby Falik, Founder and CEO of Global Citizen Year, notes: “UNC-Chapel Hill is setting a new standard for how higher education institutions can encourage AND fund meaningful gap years for their incoming students. We are honored to be a core partner in offering a transformative global immersion and leadership development experience to incoming UNC students, especially knowing that these students will receive ongoing support and mentorship through the incredible Campus Y community when they arrive on campus.”


GGYF Fellows choose the country and public service organizations where they will volunteer, while Global Citizen Year offers an 8-month global immersion and leadership development program in a community in Brazil, Ecuador, India, or Senegal. The Global Citizen Year model features a homestay with a local family, a hands-on apprenticeship with a social sector organization, ongoing leadership coaching, and intensive language training. Global Citizen Year will match the $8,000 merit scholarship that UNC provides to Global Gap Year Fellows, and will supplement this $16,000 award with need-based financial assistance.


Says Harrill, “Global gap years often open a young person’s eyes to a world they could not have imagined, and provide an immersive experiential learning opportunity that is a perfect complement to the world-class liberal arts education they pursue when they get to campus.”


The Campus Y has selected Global Citizen Year as its partner in this effort based on Global Citizen Year’s 9-year track record in providing a transformative global immersion experience that:

  1. Takes students out of their comfort zone and challenges them to try on new perspectives
  2. Encourages responsible global service through genuine community engagement
  3. Offers a balance of autonomy and support, strengthening self-confidence and sense of purpose
  4. Is accessible to all students, regardless of their financial circumstances


The UNC Global Gap Year Fellowship shares a strong commitment to these four core principles. The community of expertise UNC has developed operating GGYF over the past 7 years will help returning fellows — no matter which program they select — integrate their gap year experiences into their college careers. GGYF and Global Citizen Year staff strive to  re-energize students during their year away and send them back into the classroom with a deeper understanding of the world, their place in it, and what it means to be a “global citizen.”



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Global Citizen Year is moving forward as part of our new, larger brand: Tilting Futures. New name, same mission, expanded programs and impact.