What are the GoAbroad Innovation Awards and how did they get started?
The GoAbroad Innovation Awards seek to recognize organizations, individuals, and initiatives in the the field of international education that go beyond the conventional. Originally launched in 2011, each year, GoAbroad.com, now with partner STA Travel, announce award winners during a reception at the annual NAFSA: Association for International Educators Conference. Nominations typically open in February, and in April, finalists are announced after being carefully selected by GoAbroad and STA Travel. The finalists are sent to an esteemed list of international education professionals called the Innovation Award Academy, while others are put up for a public vote. Finally, in late May to early June, the winners are announced at NAFSA.
Nominations are currently open for the following categories:
- Innovation in Diversity : Established leader in the area of diversity
- Innovation in Marketing & Digital Media : Creative and groundbreaking marketing
- Innovative New Program (Internship, Study Abroad, Volunteer) : Inventive global programs
- Innovative Technology : Technological advancement towards education
- Innovation in Sustainability : Commitment to environmental conservation and/or sustainable community development projects
- Student Video : Captures the true essence of international education
- People’s Choice : Nominated by advisers, chosen by students
- The STA Travel Start the Adventure Award : Recognizes an individual making travel more accessible to student and youth travelers, sponsored by STA Travel
- Innovation in Philanthropy (sponsored by the GoAbroad Foundation) : Exceptional corporate responsibility and philanthropy
- NEW! Innovation in Alumni Engagement : Acknowledges pioneers in offering productive re-entry programming for past participants
Why did GoAbroad start the Innovation Awards?
In a nutshell, we saw an opportunity to use our own spirit of innovation and creativity to encourage and inspire other international educators to help propel the field forward. We can all agree that things like diversity, sustainability, philanthropy, and alumni support are areas that every organization should strive to excel in, and the Innovation Awards help highlight those organizations that are doing it well and can serve as an example for the field.
As you can see from above, there are currently ten categories for the Innovation Awards. Over the last few years we’ve slowly introduced new categories that we’ve identified as areas that have become a focus in international education, or even areas where we want the awards to help shed light on making that category a bigger focus. One example is our Innovation in Philanthropy award, sponsored by the GoAbroad Foundation. This award was introduced after we saw a larger opportunity for international educators to help provide relief for natural disasters, rural community development projects, and other charitable initiatives around the world. The nominations and winners of this award provide amazing examples of how we can all be more innovative about philanthropy.
Why should people/organizations/institutions nominated themselves or others?
Nominating for an Innovation Award is the first step to making sure that you / your organization / your initiative gets recognized. In addition, it’s a great way to get feedback from the field and to share your innovative ideas (again, to propel and inspire!). As a finalist or winner, you’ll also get widespread recognition from GoAbroad.com, STA Travel, and many other organizations that follow and report on the event and awards. Here are some more tips on how to nominate this year!
What benefit have you seen over the last few years for those that have won awards?
Great question! The first thing that comes to mind is that we believe the Innovation Awards motivate organizations and past winners to continue to strive to be better and do better. As international educators, we all want to help change the world and encourage people to expand their worldview through cultural immersion and travel. In order to do this to the best of our ability, we have to continue to innovate. So, what did you do last year that deserves to be nominated for an Innovation Award?