The Global Gap Year Fellowship is housed in and administered by the Campus Y, a unit of Student Affairs that is also one of the largest and most vibrant student organizations at UNC-Chapel Hill. Established in 1860, the Campus Y has long been UNC’s hub for social justice, social innovation, and service. With a 15,000 square foot building in the heart of historic north campus, it is the physical home for domestic and global civic engagement for approximately 2,000 undergraduate students at Carolina. Our students operate 30 social justice committees that are taking innovative approaches to addressing local and global needs in the areas of public health, human rights, youth development, environmental advocacy, education, poverty alleviation, and immigration. Additionally, we are assisting 10 start-ups in our social innovation incubator as they attempt to scale their social ventures. Over the past two decades, the Campus Y has seen a significant rise in its international outreach, along with an increased emphasis on entrepreneurial and sustainable strategies for community empowerment.
The Campus Y contains a collection of student-led committees, each with its own social justice lens and mission. Our committees allow students to apply their unique perspectives and skill sets in response to social justice causes on campus, in the larger community, and across the world. Our model creates space for multiple roles and voices in social justice efforts. The diverse makeup of our student movement embodies the complexity of the issues the committees confront, issues that are distinct but interlocked, involving local and global efforts.
The Campus Y offers a variety of ways for returning Fellows to engage the skills and experiences they gained during their gap year abroad. The majority of returning Fellows get involved through these Campus Y Committees.
Returning Fellows most often join the committees working for social justice on a global scale. These include initiatives involving human rights, international development, micro-finance, disaster relief, and public health, among others. Or, Fellows find that the skills they gained abroad have important uses on a local level. Fellows can contribute these talents to community partners who work for social justice in areas such as immigration, hunger and homelessness, and education and youth. Some of our exciting local partnerships involve organizations such as the Chapel Hill & Carrboro Human Rights Center, the Marian Cheek Jackson Center for Saving and Making History, and the Rogers-Eubanks Neighborhood Association Coalition to End Environmental Racism.