Travel is a powerful agent for change. It broadens our horizons, fills our lives with friends, gives us incredible memories, and (sometimes) helps us find purpose in our lives (at least it did with me).
Not everyone can travel and it’s a great privilege to do what we are able to do. Whether you saved up for a year, found work overseas, won a trip, or struck it rich buying Bitcoin, to be able to travel is to do something few in this world get to do.
Think about the first time you traveled overseas. Remember those feelings of freedom, possibility, and excitement? Remember what got you hooked and made you say “I need to do more of this!”?
Well, for kids, travel can be even more life changing than for adults, because it exposes them to different ideas, cultures, and people at a crucial developmental time in their life.
And, over the last few years, I’ve been focusing on trying to get more high school students overseas.
I remember the school group I met on my first ever trip abroad in 2003 and thinking about how lucky those kids were to have that experience. I remember meeting Conor and Carolyn, kids of my friends Dani and Craig, while in Bangkok. They were all on a year abroad and being homeschooled along the way. Now, as adults, they still view that trip as one of their most formative life experiences. It made them better people.
But not everyone has parents to take them on round-the-world adventures or send them to study abroad. Most high schools don’t have the resources to maintain their art and gym classes, let alone send students on trips outside their community.
Two years ago, I started FLYTE, the Foundation for Learning and Youth Travel Education, as a way to make travel and study abroad possible for those who lack the resources to do it on their own. Since then, we’ve run three trips: we’ve sent a class from Atlanta to Mexico; one from DC to Cuba; and one from Newburgh, NY, to Ecuador. And we’ve raised over $100,000 in donations to make that happen.
All told, we’ve helped send around 45 students overseas on educational trips, helping to create a positive impact on their lives.
And none of this could have been possible without YOU. Over 1,000 readers have helped get this organization off the ground!
So let me say right away: thank you, thank you, thank you! Like it’s amazing! More than me, the students, parents, and teachers of the schools you’ve helped are blown away by your generosity.
Today, I want to mention FLYTE again for two reasons:
First, we used the summer to make some improvements to the website and organization. We have a brand-new website that now features our past trips, a new volunteer program folks can join, and a new system that now allows for annual donations (yay!). Additionally, we’re now more active on social media, so follow us for updates on our students, teachers, news, and pictures from the student trips. You can follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to stay updated on our programs!
With interns and volunteers helping us out, the organization is moving forward. We’re going to have in-person fundraising events in early 2018, we’ve set a goal of applying for two grants per month, and we are reaching out for more corporate donations. In fact, we got an $11,000 donation from the Golden Rule Foundation! (Yay!)
We’re an organization on the move – and I wanted to share that with you!
Second, and perhaps more importantly, we’re now accepting applications for our next grant award. If you are a high school teacher in the United States and would like to take your students on an overseas trip, come apply for funding and let us help make that trip a reality!
As a school partner, some of our requirements include:
- At least 40% of your students are receiving free or reduced-price lunches.
- Your students are aged 14-18 and enrolled in high school at the time of the program.
- All of your students are legal residents of the U.S.
- You have support from your school administrators and leadership to take your students abroad.
- You will be able to have at least three chaperones for your trip who will be able to pay or raise the funds for some or all of their expenses.
If you’re a teacher who would like to send your kids on an overseas trip, click here to learn more and apply. You’ll see more of our requirements and expectations there.
(If you are not a teacher but know teachers who might be interested, share tat link! Help us spread the word and reach more people and students.)
Finally, like all nonprofits, we work off of donations. During this giving season, let’s help kids experience the world and turn them into life long travelers and global citizens! The more funding we have, the more students we can send around the world.
You can do one time or reoccurring donations! You can click here to donate.
Moreover, if you sign up on a recurring basis, you’re helping to make a much more profound long-term impact by enabling us to fund trips to even more schools. Plus, you’ll also get the following benefits:
- Exclusive announcement of our selected partner school and destination before anyone else
- Quarterly newsletters with updates from our schools and partners
- Lifetime 25% discount on my guidebooks
- Members only access to follow along on the trip via photos and videos
To sign up, simply click here, select monthly and your desired donation amount. (Again, you can click here to donate.)
This summer, we sent a group of students to Ecuador. It had a profound impact on them – all because of FLYTE and how’ve you made that possible. Here’s a video of the students talking about their experience:
***In a time when everyone is closing their borders – physically and metaphorically, I think it helps teach kids there is a bigger world out there, there’s a real world application to what they are learning, and the world is full of opportunity. For kids who come from socially and economically depressed communities, this idea we take for granted is often a life-changing revelation.
So let’s change someone’s life – and the world – together.
P.S. – I’m hosting a meet-up in Bangkok on Christmas Day! Let’s grab drinks and talk travel. Details are TBD, but it will be held somewhere on Khao San Road. Follow the Facebook event for updates.