Take action this spring! Explore social change across the Americas, make an impact through a civic volunteership, engage with your community, and earn college credit.

About the Program

Explore critical issues through college-level course curriculum and a volunteership placement with a community organization. Dig into leadership and cultural humility by examining your role in social change and community action. Learn how to step up at a time when collaboration and civic engagement are more important than ever.


What to Expect

  • Cohorts of 10–14 students
  • 12-week session
  • 25 hours per week, including program sessions, volunteership, and Spanish classes
  • Small group collaboration and discussion


What You’ll GET

  • Internships for Social Change course taught by Tufts University faculty
  • 3 units of college credit (12-week session only)
  • One-on-one career mentorship
  • Volunteership placement – plus training!
  • Cross-cultural connection
  • Spanish or English language classes tailored to your level


What You’ll Need

  • Internet access and a way to video chat
  • Age: 17–22
  • English fluency
  • Enthusiasm for civic action and community engagement
  • Interest in Latin America and the Spanish language
Join an info session to learn more!

Click Here

Partnering for Impact


Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life at Tufts University

The only university-wide college of its kind, Tisch College studies and promotes the civic and political engagement of young people at Tufts University, in our communities, and in our democracy.

Amigos de las Américas

Amigos de las Americas (AMIGOS) is a nonprofit organization founded in 1965 that provides youth leadership, cultural exchange, and immersive service experiences in the U.S. and Latin America.

“It’s been wonderful getting to know our Civic Action Gap Semester participants this semester and learning alongside them about pressing social issues, and how to build a better world. Seeing our participants connect to one another, grapple with challenging topics, and work towards projects to create change within their home communities has been inspiring and uplifting during a difficult time for our global world.”
–Jessye Crowe-Rothstein, Tufts First-Year Global Programs Manager

Experience Summary



How to Apply

The deadline for spring 2021 has passed. Request info here to be notified when new sessions open.


Fees and Financial Assistance

$8,475 $7,975
Need-based financial assistance is available! The deadline has passed, but financial assistance may still be awarded on a rolling basis depending on the availability of funds.


What’s Included

-Full Tufts University course – CVS 99: Internships for Social Change
-Earn 3 units of course credit from Tufts University
-10-week volunteership placement, including training
-Engage design thinking to develop and complete a civic engagement project
-Earn up to 80 service hours
-Connection to a mentor to discuss your career interests
-Spanish or English language instruction (three hours per week)
-Llama Lounge and language café meetups to connect with other students
-Virtual tours of AMIGOS partner agencies across Latin America

Volunteership Placements

"Civic Action Gap Semester students are thoughtful, smart, and kind—a wonderful addition to our team! We have had them involved in discrete short term projects that allow them to leverage their U.S.-based knowledge for impact in Latin America and engage in English when needed while continuing to build their Spanish. The structure and initial onboarding provided by Tufts and Amigos de las Americas was excellent."
–Yo Quiero Yo Puedo, Mexico

Example Schedule

This is intended to provide an example only of what to expect from the Civic Action Gap Semester. Information below is tentative and subject to change.

Week 1: Introduction: Racial Justice & Social Change

Meet the other members of your cohort and get to know them through fun activities.

Consider how cultural humility, personal leadership, and community and civic engagement inform your volunteership and project.

Explore racial justice and social change and how these topics will be incorporated into the program.


Week 2: Racial Justice & Social Change

Hear from California’s Chief Service Officer, Josh Fryday, on the importance of civic action through volunteering.

Participate in training focused on racial justice and equity.

Find out what to expect from your volunteership.

Learn about the civic engagement project and how you will be engaging with your local community to execute an innovative local initiative.


Weeks 3–12 (12-week) or Weeks 3–6 (6-week)

Every two weeks we will be exploring, researching, and learning about a critical social issue that impacts both the U.S. and different countries in Central America and Ecuador. We’ll hear from Tufts faculty, guest speakers, and partner agencies as we analyze the roots of each problem and discuss different ways to create social change. In particular, we’ll approach each issue from a racial justice standpoint, highlighting racial disparities and the oppressive way in which race structures our society. Every week will also include the Tufts course or guided reflections, personal leadership activities, and civic engagement project work.

Spanish classes, meetups in the llama lounge, language café, 1:1 mentorship, and the volunteership round out the program.

Week 3 & 4: Public Health

Delve into the topic of racism in the health care system and how it has impacted COVID-19 responses in the US and in your own community.

Learn about the COVID-19 response in 3 different countries in Central America (Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua).


Week 5 & 6: Youth Political Participation

Explore the role of youth in U.S. politics.

Learn about the youth-led Nicaraguan political movement and how it has impacted politics.


Week 7 & 8: Food Security

Explore the ways in which communities in Latin America have utilized alternative commerce mechanisms in the wake of COVID-19 food and money shortages.

Learn about the politics of essential work and food justice in the U.S. and identify ways it has manifested in your community.


Week 9 & 10: Environment

Investigate the impact that mining and illegal fishing has on the indigenous populations of Ecuador and the protected nature reserves and wildlife.

Learn about environmental justice in the U.S.


Week 11 & 12: Education

Compare and contrast how COVID-19 has impacted education in the U.S. and Central America.

Explore increasing inequality in education due to access to virtual spaces and adequate technology.

Find out more in the video below:


What makes this experience unique?

Course Curriculum

Faculty from Tufts University’s Tisch College of Civic Life lead modules on topics like civic engagement, cultural humility, and leadership. College credit is available.


Career Mentors

We match students with a career mentor. Throughout the semester, students connect with their mentor to delve into their personal leadership style, explore career paths, and more!



The volunteership is an opportunity to safely plug in to an organization working in areas such as public health, food security, and civic engagement in the era of COVID-19.


Language Training

Join the weekly Language Café, an engaging time for real conversation in Spanish, English, and Spanglish. Formal language instruction is also included! Students will be assigned to small groups based on their level.


Racial Equity and Justice Education

Lean into important work on racial equity and justice across the Americas through coursework led by Tufts University faculty. Complement this curriculum with workshops from leaders taking action in their communities.


Cultural Exchange

Dive into your own culture and learn to understand cultural bias, the role of language in culture, and global citizenship. Explore the work of NGOs across the Americas through virtual agency tours.


Join an online info session!


Program Pillars


Explore your sense of purpose and start to establish your personal goals and values through introspection and inquiry.

Cultural Humility

Gain understanding of how structural racism has impacted societies and the roles that communities can take to lead systemic change.

Community and Civic Engagement

Increase self-efficacy to combat social issues and structural racism in new and innovative ways. Learn how to engage in civic action initiatives you’re passionate about – locally, nationally, and globally.

Length Training
Ages Application
Spring 2021 12 weeks

Online orientation and training

February 16–May 7, 2021

17–22 January 15, 2021

$8,475 $7,975 *special introductory price

Need-based financial assistance is available! The deadline to apply has passed but financial assistance may still be awarded on a rolling basis depending on the availability of funds.

  • Spring 2021
  • Length
    12 weeks
  • Training Dates

    Online orientation and training

  • In-Country Dates

    February 16–May 7, 2021

  • Ages
  • Application Deadline
    January 15, 2021
  • Price

    $8,475 $7,975 *special introductory price

    Need-based financial assistance is available! The deadline to apply has passed but financial assistance may still be awarded on a rolling basis depending on the availability of funds.

Featured Speakers

Ambassador Arnold Chacon is a career member of the United States Foreign Service currently serving as the Senior Vice President at the National Defense University. He has held senior leadership positions at the State Department, including Chief of Mission in Guatemala and Chief Human Capital Officer.

Prior to his service in Guatemala, he served as Deputy Chief of Mission in Spain. His other diplomatic assignments include postings to U.S. Missions in Honduras, Mexico, Chile, Italy, Peru, Ecuador, and the United Nations.

Cecilia Garcia Ruiz is a Mexican feminist and human rights advocate with over a decade of combined experience working in the civil society sector, the public sector, and as an independent consultant to advance gender equality. As Regional EM2030 Coordinator for Latin America and the Caribbean, she works with girls and women’s rights organizations in the region to strengthen their data-driven advocacy skills to advance gender equality and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. Cecilia holds a Master’s Degree in Public Policy and Gender, and a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology.

Josh Fryday is California’s Chief Service Officer, leading the organization California Volunteers. Before this role, Josh was the mayor and city council member of Novato, CA. In his professional capacity, Josh served as President of Golden State Opportunity, working to provide financial security to low-income working people throughout California. Prior to that, he served as Chief Operating Officer (COO) for NextGen Climate, a leading national organization focused on climate change and clean energy.

Grace Alderson, MPH, is an Operations Chief in the COVID-19 pandemic response in Santa Clara County, California. Pre-COVID-19, Grace was a Senior Community Health Planner, specializing in developing grassroots initiatives dedicated to health equity and increasing access to healthcare. Over the past 10 years, Grace has worked on community health programming across the U.S. and throughout Mexico, Guatemala, Uruguay, Spain, Kenya, and China. Grace is an AMIGOS alumna (Volunteer in Mexico ’03, Paraguay ’04, Project Supervisor in Costa Rica ’06 and Associate Project Director in Nicaragua in ’07.)

Scott Horsley is NPR’s Chief Economics Correspondent. He reports on ups and downs in the national economy as well as fault lines between booming and busting communities.

Horsley spent a decade on the White House beat, covering both the Trump and Obama administrations. Before that, he was a San Diego-based business reporter for NPR, covering fast food, gasoline prices, and the California electricity crunch of 2000. He also reported from the Pentagon during the early phases of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Horsley earned a bachelor’s degree from Harvard University and an MBA from San Diego State University. He is an AMIGOS alumnus (’83, ’84) and currently lives in Washington, D.C.


Do I have to be enrolled in college to participate?

No, you do not have to be enrolled in college or planning to go to college to join. The Civic Action Gap Semester is open to any student ages 17-22, regardless of college plans. You should have an interest in civic engagement and a commitment to your community.

Do I have to be a Tufts University student to join?

No, you do not have to be a Tufts University student to join.

Do we get to choose our volunteership placement?

You will have some choice in your placement, but we will take into account the needs of the partner agency and your skills and interests before placing you.

Instead of being matched to a placement, students can also submit their own volunteership proposals with organizations within their communities or networks.

How do I get college-level course credit?

Any student who completes the 12-week experience will receive 3 units of college credit from Tufts University (the equivalent of one course).

When do I need to be available?

You should plan to be online between 12 and 3 PM ET Monday, Wednesday, and Friday and you should make sure to have some free time on Tuesdays and Thursdays to meet with your mentor, complete required program work, participate in Spanish classes and other optional program activities, and work for your volunteership. Your exact volunteership schedule will depend on the agency’s needs and your availability, but all placements require 6 hours of work each week.

What is the language requirement?

Students should be proficient in the English language as the curriculum will be delivered in English. Each student will join a Spanish or English language class for formal language instruction.

Can I apply for financial assistance?

Yes! We are excited to offer sliding scale fee with four tiers ranging from $250 to $7,975 based on a student’s financial situation. We encourage you to apply as early as possible, as our ability to offer lower fee packages is limited. Note on your application that you are applying for financial assistance. You will need to submit your most recent 1040 tax form or another form of income verification. Applicants will be notified of their financial assistance package when they are accepted to the Civic Action Gap Semester, before paying a deposit. Please contact [email protected] if you have any questions about financial assistance. Click here for more information about fees and financial assistance.


If these FAQs don’t answer your questions, we’d be happy to chat. Click here to set up a call.

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“The things you will learn and experience and the relationships you will build will remain with you through the rest of your life.”

—Emma, AMIGOS Gap Volunteer

Program Requirements
  • Internet access and a way to video chat
  • Age: 17–22
  • English fluency
  • Enthusiasm for civic action and community engagement
  • Interest in Latin America and the Spanish language

Get Social With Us!

Bienvenidos a Costa Rica! Our spring gap pod has begun their (socially distant!) briefing near Turrialba. They'll spend their first few days practicing Spanish, learning about Costa Rica, and exploring their beautiful surroundings!⠀

Follow their adventures with @amigosgapcostarica!

Explore the impact of renewable energy on local communities with AMIGOS this summer with our Nicaragua: Nueva Segovia & León Project!⠀

This STEM program will take a deep dive into different types of renewable energy in Nicaragua. Travel throughout the country to observe solar power generation and usage in rural areas. Learn first-hand about geo-thermal energy from volcanoes. Find out how this relates to conservation efforts on a global scale.⠀

Learn more at the link in our bio!

Thinking about joining our programs this summer? Join us this week for an info session! See the full schedule and RSVP at the link in our bio. ...

What lessons have we learned from our gap students since our Gap Program began in 2012? #Explorethegapyear and find out more on our blog (link in bio). ...

We are hiring two AmeriCorps VISTA positions to work with us starting this spring!⠀

If you're interested in the Marketing Associate or Outreach Associate roles, find out more at the link in our bio.

What happens after a natural disaster? Find out what local communities on the coast of Ecuador are doing to lead recovery efforts and conserve natural resources by joining our Ecuador: La Costa project this summer!⠀

The financial assistance deadline is on March 1st and spots are filling up fast. Find out more about this project and see all 2021 programs at the link in bio.

📣 Free airfare alert! 📣 Apply to an AMIGOS program in Latin America this summer, refer a friend, and you will both get entered to win free round trip airfare for your AMIGOS experience! Link in bio. ...

Thinking about a gap year? Head over to @gapyearassociation for gap year info, tips, stories, events, and resources! ⠀


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