Grants for Your Gap Year, Internship, or Volunteering Abroad

Win up to $2,500 to support your living expenses and airfare for an international trip with a purpose. International volunteers who’d like to embark on a volunteer journey, internship, or a gap year abroad may apply for the available grants listed below. In this series on alternative tourism, we share opportunities and tips for untrivial travel experiences.

Why Do You Need to Pay to Volunteer?

It may seem counterintuitive that those who are willing to volunteer their time for a good cause need to pay to do so. However, when you take a closer look at this, it starts to make sense. Usually, volunteers are needed in places with underdeveloped resources in education, labour, medicine, etc. And more often than not that makes it impossible to charge local communities for the services, thus raising the question of financing volunteering-related expenses, namely accommodation, food, training, and support.

To offset the volunteers’ expenses, some organizations provide generous scholarships to cover travel, living expenses, or program fees. Below you will find grants from three established volunteer platforms. The scholarships are open to volunteers worldwide, however, there are certain grant-specific criteria.


Volunteer Forever Grants

Since 2014, Volunteer Forever has been offering travel scholarships to help participants defray the cost of volunteering, studying, interning, teaching, or working abroad. Twice a year, they award a $500 to $1,000 scholarship to two travelers.

Volunteer Forever was founded after CEO Steve Weddle’s life-changing volunteering trip to India in 2011. The platform was built to break significant information and financial barriers that kept many travelers from participating in programs. The website allows you to search for opportunities based on your preferences such as location, duration, and types of activities. It also has numerous guidebooks to help you plan your gap year, volunteering trip, or internship.

If you need to raise funds for your trip, you may apply for one of the scholarships that Volunteer Forever is providing.

Volunteers serving food to the needed
There are many types of volunteer work – Volunteers serving food


Scholarship Criteria

This scholarship is open to travelers embarking on all kinds of meaningful trips: no matter where you’d like to go worldwide, we’re here to help. The scholarship award can be used for anything related to your travel, including the program fee, airfare, travel insurance, or even spending money while abroad.

During each scholarship round, essays are evaluated blindly by a scholarship committee. Application information includes personal information, program details, and open-ended questions. Applicants should explain what they will use the scholarship for, include information about program fees, travel insurance, airfare, and budget. Additionally, candidates will need to write about their motivation and future plans for the experience they will gain during their trip.

Children in rural indian village school
There are many types of volunteeri work – Children in rural indian village school

Omprakash Ethical Global Engagement Grants

Omprakash Ethical Global Engagement Grants support travel, living, and EdGE tuition expenses for exceptional candidates. The platform is the world’s robust and affordable platform for ethical and educational global engagement. Programs listed on the website include options for a gap year, a long sabbatical, a volunteering trip, or an internship abroad.


Grant Conditions

It is expected that grant recipients will join the EdGE learning community and volunteer or intern abroad for 3+ months with one of the international partner organizations. While some grants cover full expenses, most will not. Grant recipients are often expected to “meet the EdGE halfway,” and are welcome to use the Omprakash Crowdfunding platform to help cover unmet costs. All grant recipients are expected to become Omprakash Ambassadors, helping to expand and deepen the Omprakash network before, during, and after their time abroad. The generous support of donors allows EdGE to offer the following grant programs:


  • EdGE Gap Year Grant

The EdGE Gap Year Grant targets individuals who can commit to volunteering or interning with an international Omprakash Partner for more than six months and who are 22 years of age or younger at the time of their application. The EdGE Gap Year Grant includes free tuition to the EdGE online learning program and up to $2500 to cover international travel and living expenses.


  • EdGE Travel Grants

The EdGE Travel Grant defrays the costs of travel and living abroad for volunteers or interns who are spending 3+ months with an Omprakash Partner. There is no restriction on volunteer age. The typical grant amounts range from $500 to $1500.


  • EdGE Scholarships

EdGE Scholarships offer partial or full tuition reductions to EdGE participants.


  • Crowdfund Matching Grants:

Crowdfund Matching Grants offer up to $1500 in matching funds for EdGE students who are using the Omprakash Crowdfund platform.


  • Application Fee

Please note that candidates are required to submit a $20 USD application fee when submitting a grant request. This is only intended to help the team ensure that they receive serious, purposeful requests. In very exceptional circumstances, they may waive this fee, and you are free to contact EdGE if you think you should qualify for a waiver.


United Planet Service Scholarships

United Planet is a non-profit organization with a mission to create a global community through connecting volunteers with communities in more than 30 countries, where they learn, teach, work, engage, and immerse themselves in a culture outside their comfort zone.

United Planet is offering various Service Scholarships towards any of their gap year, volunteer abroad, and internship abroad quests departing in 2020. Applications for a United Planet Service Scholarship will be accepted until June 30th, 2020. Applicants must be first-time Quest participants and plan to travel on their Quest before the end of 2020.


  • United Planet Gap Year Scholarship

United Planet offers gap year programs, among the longest-standing programs in the world, since 1949, in over 25 countries.  United Planet is pleased to offer Gap Year Scholarships up to $1,000 towards any six-month or one-year program.


  • United Planet Volunteer Abroad Scholarship

Immersive and personalized volunteer programs offered by United Planet range in duration from 1 week to 16 weeks across the world.  You may apply for Volunteer Abroad Scholarships up to $500 towards these short-term and mid-term programs.


United Planet Internship Scholarship

The organization offers internships in any program longer than 4 weeks. Interns can choose to receive university credit for their time abroad through Portland State University. United Planet Internship Scholarships are valued up to $500 towards any internship abroad program.

Whether you are currently a student, a working professional, or an enthusiast, anyone is encouraged to apply. Applications for a United Planet Service Scholarship will be accepted until June 30th, 2020.


International volunteering should be a thoroughly considered decision as it will definitely take you out of your comfort zone. Be sure to evaluate your previous experience with the volunteer activities you’re applying for to build a convincing case in your grant application essay.

Photos: Shutterstock / Photomontage: Martina Advaney

Read more on Alternative Tourism and Volunteering!

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