Structure & Journey


Taking a FOCUS Climate Gap Year is an investment in yourself, your education and the world.

FOCUS offers full year and semester long gap year programs with up to 18 credits for each semester. We have climate-focused programs in China, Chile, Argentina and India. Each of these countries has a unique climate story to tell and a community of experts for students to learn from during their gap year.


Our Curriculum Model

Students will learn about climate impacts, contributors and solutions in each country through a combination of volunteer projects, syllabus readings and group discussions, travel excursions, presentations and tours by climate experts and collaboration on a group capstone project.


The Watt


Our Collaboration Model

Each FOCUS gap year cohort is comprised of students drawn to playing 4 critical roles on teams, in society and in their careers. Learning how to apply your unique skills and when to seek help from others is a fundamental collaboration and leadership skill for our next generation of leaders to learn.



Young people drawn to careers as journalists, marketers, artists, writers, musicians, filmmakers—people who shape and share the narratives that inspire action.



Young people drawn to careers as engineers, scientists, inventors, entrepreneurs—people who discover, disrupt and demonstrate the power of new solutions.



Young people drawn to careers as builders, carpenters, electricians, farmers, mechanics, accountants—people who build and maintain the infrastructure of solutions.



Young people drawn to careers as politicians, policy advocates, lawyers, lobbyists, judges, activists—people who craft and advocate for the legal landscapes that will accelerate solutions



The Student Journey


Fall Programs

Fall programs are run as cohorts with up to 12 students, and typically overseas for around 11 weeks. Each cohort has 2 in-country FOCUS educators who are trained on risk management, wilderness medicine, group dynamics, experiential education, and of course climate change - it’s their job to support student learning, facilitate quality discussions, support a safe-learning environment, and support students.  In most cases, FOCUS educators will start the program managing all logistics, and quickly begin transitioning to a support role for students to manage more of their own logistics. FOCUS educators will see students every day of the program to ensure high quality of experience, learning, and of course risk management.

During a Fall program, the cohort will have 5 weeks of volunteer experiences directly related to climate impacts and solutions in their country.   The remaining 6 weeks represent a diversity of experiences. This includes language study, homestays, cross-cultural and self-awareness building, and of course a bit of adventure, because education happens when we’re on the edge of what’s comfortable. By the end of the fall semester, each cohort will prepare and present a capstone project, either individually or in teams.  

FOCUS works exclusively with Accredited Gap Year Providers from the Gap Year Association, the premier nonprofit regulatory organization for gap year education in the United States.  The Gap Year Association works with the US Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission to be the official standard-bearer for gap years. Requiring organizations to complete a 64 page application that, for those who are successful, takes an average of 9 months to sufficiently prove.


Spring Programs

At the completion of the fall experience, FOCUS students will have the opportunity to be invited into an 11-week self-guided individual experience. The spring semester experience will be inspired by what students learned during their fall semester and can either take place in the same country, or a new country where FOCUS has partners and experts. Some examples of an internship might include: an independent study project, a collaboration with another student on a climate mitigation strategy in a local community, community outreach for a new endeavor, story telling interviews touching on those who have been impacted by climate change, or even supporting an existing research effort.  At FOCUS we believe strongly that local solutions must be locally driven, meaning we do our best to adhere to the Fair Trade Learning Standards, and while a student may propose a project to the local community, any project must be designed with sustainability and local ownership in mind. The most important piece of a spring semester experience is that a student learns how to design and pursue an experience that connects directly to something they are passionate about. FOCUS staff will help students design their spring semester experiences so they can earn college credit and go deeper into a topic.