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I think travel can be not only fun, but truly life altering for kids who have the luxury of growing up experiencing first-hand that the world is bigger than their own neighborhood. Travel can turn really bring to life information that is taught in schools and can even aid in breaking down negativity or fear about those who are “different” from ourselves.
That is one of the big reasons that I put travel as a priority for my family, and in turn started this site. However, I don’t think that travel should be reserved for those families and children fortunate enough to be in the upper income brackets.
Miles and points make it possible for many of us to carve out affordable opportunities for our children to travel even on limited budgets, but not everyone can do what we do to make that happen. So, when my friend Matt Kepnes (better known online as Nomadic Matt) told me about a nonprofit he was starting to enable high school students in underserved US communities send students overseas, I was immediately interested.
The new nonprofit is called FLYTE, The Foundation for Leadership and Youth Travel Education, initially the focus will be on providing support, funding, and advice for high school students and their teachers in rural or economically depressed communities travel overseas (this may expand to include college study abroad opportunities in the future). Their goal is to enable experiences such as a history teacher showing his students the D-Day beaches of France, a foreign language teacher immersing her students in the language and culture, and the biology teacher teaching sustainability in the jungles of Costa Rica.
I’m sure lots of teachers and schools would absolutely love to provide those sort of experiences to their students, but most schools aren’t going to have the money or experience to run those sort of trips. Even if they did, many students won’t have the finances to afford to participate.
However, with the help of FLYTE, hopefully that can start to change. FLYTE’s goal is to raise $250,000 over the next few weeks to launch the foundation and coordinate five student trips in the first year (and the more funding they get, the more trips they can run).
If you are interested in helping fund this organization, they are seeking donations as small as $10. Those that donate will get access to updates about the student expeditions, their progress, and foundation events, as well as messages from the teachers and students about their travels.
For those that can donate more, there are some extra goodies as incentives for higher donations:
$25 — Nomadic Matt’s two travel e-books (How to Teach English Overseas, the Ultimate Guide to Travel Hacking), and the electronic city guides to NYC, Paris, Bangkok, Amsterdam, Stockholm, and Hong Kong. (Value: $91)
$50 — All of the above PLUS a signed copy of Nomadic Matt’s print book, How to Travel the World on $50 a Day, a FLTYE t-shirt, and one with the saying “Keep Calm and Travel On.”
$100 — All of the above PLUS 30 minutes of travel planning with Nomadic Matt, a FLYTE bumper sticker, and a personal thank-you message from the class that your donation helps send overseas.
$500 — All of the above PLUS an hour total of travel planning with Nomadic Matt, a souvenir from the students’ trip, and a backpack from REI for your own!
$1,000 — All of the above PLUS a free flight to anywhere in your region of the world and three extra copies of Nomadic Matt’s print book.
$2,000 — All of the above (except the free flight) PLUS Nomadic Matt will fly you to NYC for two nights, put you up in an Airbnb, take you to lunch, you’ll be listed as a premium donor on FLYTE’s website and be invited to special donor events (U.S. residents only.)
For those who want more details, you can head to their FAQ here. If you are a teacher in a rural or inner-city school and would like to apply for the program you can email firstname.lastname@example.org. A final detail is that the organization does not yet have 501(c)3 status, but this should reportedly change in the future.
I’m excited to see what this organization is able to do to bring travel to more students who otherwise may not get to experience the world as so many of our children have.