Students can now apply to ear-marked opportunities with scholarships attached, to help overcome the barriers they may face to participating in international work-integrated learning (iWIL) experiences.

The University of Waterloo’s new Powering Change program will offer 65+ transformational iWIL experiences in more than 20 non-traditional locations. From January 2022 to March 2025, the program will benefit students who are Indigenous, have accessibility needs, or face income barriers.

The program is funded by Global Skills Opportunity (GSO), the Government of Canada’s outbound mobility program.

We are committed to preparing our students for a volatile, unpredictable, complex and ambiguous world,” says Norah McRae, Associate Provost of Waterloo Co-operative and Experiential Education (CEE) at the University of Waterloo. “Part of this commitment extends to providing opportunities for students that face barriers. They are powerful change agents both locally and globally. We want their voices to be heard.”

A goal of the Powering Change initiative is to help students become agents of change and advance the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals. A study authored by McRae and Shabnam Ivković, director of international strategic initiatives in CEE, outlines the important role that students play in the advancement of these goals.

student sitting in a cafe working on a laptop

“To support the 2019-2024 International Education Strategy, the Government of Canada has committed $147.9 million dollars to outbound student mobility. Waterloo has received $500,000 to support both virtual and in-person international experiences for students,” says Lisa ter Woort, international account manager in cooperative education and the coordinator of Powering Change. “As international travel opens up in early 2022, Waterloo students in co-op and other campus units with international mobility programs, will be able to apply for specific opportunities that advance the sustainable development goals (SDG), and will be supported by a Powering Change scholarship of $10,000 each.”

“We will dive deeper into how effective intercultural competency development can drive the UN’s SDGs and global challenges forward as part of the Future Ready Talent Framework,” says Ivković.

These scholarships will cover typical costs associated with international travel such as airfare and accommodation. For the virtual experience, the $1,000 scholarship can cover costs like program participation fees, software expenses, and equipment.

Working together for change

Powering Change is a campus-wide alliance between Waterloo’s Co-operative Education team and other international work-integrated-learning (iWIL) providers.

  • Waterloo Institute for Sustainable Energy (WISE) – Affordable Energy for Humanity (AE4H)
  • EDGE - World Association for Co-op Education (WACE) Global Challenge Program
  • Faculty of Environment - International Development Program (INDEV)
  • St. Jerome’s University (SJU) - Service-Learning Programs
  • St. Paul’s University (SPU) - Waterloo Indigenous Students Centre (WISC)/Programs and Student Refugee Program (SRP)
  • International employers, partners and iWIL opportunity providers

Questions about the program can be sent to Lisa ter Woort at