World Smarts Changemakers

World Smarts Changemakers


World Smarts Changemakers connects young people from the United States and Latin America in bilingual conversation and a problem-based learning experience that inspires cultural awareness, language immersion, and community development.

World Smarts Changemakers (WSC) joins middle school students in Guatemala and the United States for conversational language learning in online collaboration spaces. Students form binational teams design solutions for real problems, facilitated by classroom teachers trained in WSC’s curriculum focused on UN Sustainable Development Goals, design thinking, and conversations. Throughout the project-based learning experience, participants develop skills such as digital literacy, cross-cultural communication, cooperation, and critical thinking. After each cohort, participants submit projects to the Changemakers Expo, with teams recognized for excellence in collaboration, cross-cultural communication, and innovation at the culminating event.

Apply for the World Smarts Changemakers Program

6th – 9th Grade Educators in Washington DC, Maryland, and Virginia can apply to lead a US-Guatemala exchange.  

Apply by May 3, 2024

Goals and Objectives

  • Prepare students from underrepresented and marginalized communities to prosper in an interconnected world.
  • Build sustainable, transferable skills and boost confidence for under-represented intermediate school learners through access to cross cultural communication and conversational language learning, empowering them with the experience of creating authentic solutions to real world problems.
  • Develop virtual exchange facilitation skills and understanding of design thinking through training and weekly coaching sessions with facilitators and school sponsors.
  • Build capacity of a local partner in Guatemala to implement virtual exchange programs through improved performance in operational systems, and measurement and evaluation.
“The World Smarts program is exciting because it brings together secondary school students from the DC Metro area with peers in Guatemala to build relationships and solve problems that matter to them and their communities. Through genuine virtual collaboration students build technical skills such as language learning and 21st century skills such as cross-cultural communication, empathy, and problem solving,” Sarah Bever, Senior Technical Advisor at IREX

Project Activities

  • Virtual Mentor Training: Selected mentors attend a virtual training session where they will learn about the 10-week challenge modules and how to implement them. 
  • 10-Week Binational Virtual Exchange: World Smarts teams engage in bilingual conversations and develop a solution to a global challenge from the Sustainable Development Goals.
  • Virtual Global STEM Exhibit: WSC teams share their STEM prototypes through a video pitch and concept paper, which are displayed in a virtual exhibit leading up to the Virtual Global Expo. The exhibit is open to the public. 
  • Virtual Global Expo: To conclude, the World Smarts teams will participate in culminating events to share their solutions and celebration of conversational moves and foundational skills  



The World Smarts Changemakers is funded by the Stevens Initiative, which is housed at the Aspen Institute and is supported by the Bezos Family Foundation. The program is implemented by IREX with partnership from Empresarios por la Educación.