Model & Strategy

Global Citizen Year (GCY) is forging a new educational pathway for America’s emerging leaders. By immersing a diverse corps of fellows in developing countries during a “bridge year” after high school, GCY prepares them for success in college, careers and the global economy.

Each year, GCY recruits and trains a diverse corps of high potential high school graduates and supports them through a transformative bridge year before college. Through intensive training and immersion in communities across Africa, Latin America and eventually Asia and the Middle East, Fellows contribute to local efforts in education, technology, health and the environment while developing the global competence, entrepreneurial savvy and self-awareness they need to be transformative leaders in college, their careers and life. GCY is redefining education in America beyond this core program by partnering with colleges, media and policy-makers.

Ultimately, GCY envisions a world in which this bridge year becomes a common expectation and opportunity—transforming education, and unleashing the potential of the next generation as social innovators and global citizens.

At a Glance
Founded: 2008
Founder & CEO: Abigail Falik
Civic Engagement
Location of work: International, Asia, Latin America
Global Citizen Year
1625 Clay Street
Suite 400
Oakland, CA 94612
Equipping a new generation of leaders for our global century
Meet Abigail Falik

Abigail Falik is the founder and CEO of Global Citizen Year. Prior to founding Global Citizen Year, Falik applied her entrepreneurial instincts to innovative educational initiatives in the U.S. and around the world. She was an early team member at College Track, an organization focused on ensuring college success for low-income students, as well as a strategic advisor to Room to Read, an organization that helps build literacy skills in Africa and Asia. During her tenure at NetAid (later acquired by Mercy Corps), she designed and launched a flagship initiative to engage U.S. high school students in the fight to end global poverty.

Abby has been featured in Fast Company, NPR, Forbes and the New York Times. For her achievements as a social entrepreneur, she has been recognized as an Ashoka Fellow and a Harvard Social Enterprise Fellow.


To date, the GYC Fellowship has launched nearly 1,000 emerging leaders—and early evidence shows that the experience changes young people in ways the world needs most. Our alumni are maximizing college, graduating a year faster than the national average, and pursuing careers—from Tesla to the UN and the U.S. Senate—that align with their values.

The experience is particularly transformative for the 47% of our fellows who come from low-income backgrounds: 95% say this was the best preparation they could have had for college and 91% are enrolled in or have graduated from college (vs. 9% of their peers in the same demographic).

GYC alumni have been honored as Gates Millennium Scholars, Fulbright Scholars, and TFA corps-members, and they are nearly twice as confident as their peers in their ability to get the job they want when they graduate. 92% are stimulated and engaged at work, and 85% believe their work makes a positive difference in the lives of others.

To scale their reach and impact, they’ve built partnerships with over a dozen leading colleges (including Duke, Tufts, and UNC) around joint admissions, funding, and course-credit. In 2018 they co-founded the Gap Year Research Consortium, which unites top schools to gather outcomes data that has the potential to disrupt our educational paradigm.