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Empowering women’s pathways to STEM & sustainability: AFS launches 150 scholarships

AFS Intercultural Programs, a global non-profit educational exchange organisation, launched a new multi-year scholarship-based program dedicated to ensuring women and girls have a more equal access to STEM, sustainability and global competence education.

Photo: AFS

"Although women make up more than half of the college-educated workforce globally, only 28% of STEM fields are represented by women"

Applications for the virtual exchange program, AFS Global STEM Accelerators, are open now through May 15 to young women worldwide.

Women and girls who seek to advance their STEM education often face a set of challenges in fields traditionally dominated by men. Although women make up more than half of the college-educated workforce globally, only 28% of STEM fields are represented by women.

AFS Global STEM Accelerators is a program designed specifically to address such issues. By providing an opportunity for girls to explore their interests in STEM, sustainability, leadership and social impact, AFS will create more possibilities for women to contribute to a sustainable future. This full-scholarship, virtual exchange program will include 150 young women (ages 15-17.5) worldwide who are energised to solve some of today’s biggest global challenges.

In addition, AFS will allocate a portion of scholarships specifically to refugees and students from displaced populations globally.

Giving young people the tools to help build a more sustainable future

Through immersive learning experiences, AFS Global STEM Accelerators scholars will develop critical technical competencies, like digital skills, design thinking, data literacy, and STEM awareness, paired with global competencies, such as emotional intelligence, critical thinking, intercultural awareness, and teamwork, to become changemakers in their communities.

The program culminates with scholars developing social impact capstone projects and presentations that offer potential solutions to real-world challenges, with an emphasis on sustainability. The program culminates with the Advanced Certificate on Global Competence for Social Impact, awarded by AFS and the University of Pennsylvania, along with official validation on their capstone projects from the University of Pennsylvania Center for Social Impact Strategy.

Upon program completion, scholars will be invited to join the alumni community offering diverse mentoring opportunities, skills development sessions, panel discussions and further development opportunities. Scholars will be invited to participate in the AFS Youth Assembly, a global gathering of young people actively tackling the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

Empowering young people to become changemakers through STEM

AFS Intercultural Programs is a global not-for-profit with decades of expertise in impact-driven educational exchanges and the power of a global network.

“Educating more young people to become global citizens is crucial if we want to create a more sustainable future”

“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,” says Daniel Obst, President and CEO of AFS Intercultural Programs.

The program is part of a five-year scholarship initiative, the AFS Global STEM Changemakers Initiative, which aims to provide 5,000 young people worldwide with immersive learning experiences through STEM, global competence, and sustainability-focused intercultural exchange programs.

The initiative will span the next five years (2022-26), with funding from bp, a global integrated energy company. bp supports initiatives such as this to help build the STEM talent that the world needs to create sustainable solutions and improve the diversity of talent in STEM. 

About the author: This is a sponsored post from Sean Reilly (he/they), the Director of Program Development at AFS Intercultural Programs, where he directs a suite of mobility, virtual, and hybrid exchange programs for teens around the world. His passion for increasing access and inclusion for diverse, global populations comes to life in the programs he oversees, themed around global competence, social impact, and sustainability.

Sean also leads the development and delivery of sponsor-funded programming and scholarships at AFS, including the recently-launched Global STEM Changemakers Initiative: a $15 million grant to create pathways to STEM and sustainability education for underrepresented populations worldwide.

His experience in global education has spanned the primary, secondary, and higher education tiers, including prior roles at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Boston University, and as a TEFL-certified English educator in Italy. As a passionate global explorer himself, Sean enjoys befriending animal acquaintances wherever he goes, celebrating local queer culture, and never turns down the chance to learn a new language.

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