In July, I launched a new charitable foundation called The Foundation for Learning and Youth Travel Education (FLYTE) to raise money for high schools in rural and low-income communities so that they may send their students on international educational trips.
Since it launched, we’ve raised $11,400! First, I want to say thank you, thank you, thank you! This is completely awesome! Your support means so much to me and to the students we’ll be assisting. Together we are well on the way to successfully funding our first trip.
Today I want to tell you more about FLYTE and answer some questions many of you have asked since I first wrote about the organization.
For years I’ve been wondering how I could get more people to travel and see the big, beautiful world we inhabit. As international travelers, we have a unique opportunity to break down barriers, foster cultural exchange, and create a positive impact on communities around the world. We can banish stereotypes of our own cultures, stimulate the local economy, and bring fresh ideas and perspective. Travel can be life-changing — not only for the destination you are visiting but also for yourself. We walk away a better version of ourselves and with a better understanding of the world.
My solution: get kids traveling. Let’s face it: young people are the future. Traveling exposes students to different ideas, cultures, and people at a crucial developmental time in their life. FLYTE is a vehicle to also bring life to the subjects they learn in school and help them become global citizens.
Once I developed this idea and established the guiding principles for FLYTE, I decided to kick off our fundraising and get to work right away! I wanted to make the best use of our time and resources while we started taking applications from schools. I’ve spent countless hours talking with people who work in education, travel, and the nonprofit world to gain insight and knowledge, and to develop best practices.
Our overall goal this year is to raise $250,000 to ensure that we can offer five trips in our first two years, maintain a minimal reserve fund for emergencies, and be able to cover administrative expenses (such as a director, web hosting, fundraising, and mailings) and any other expenses. The school trips, even on a minimal budget, will cost an average of $45,000 to fully fund groups of 15 students and three chaperones. (This means that well over 80% of the money raised would go directly toward funding school programs. This definitely won’t be an organization that spends the majority of its money on raising more money!)
I have been leading groups abroad for several years and have a lot of experience creating budgets. We anticipate that trips will cost on average $2,500 per student, depending on the destination of their trip. Here’s how we break that down for a nine-day trip:
- Flight: $500-1,000
- Passport: $120
- Visa fees: $30
- Travel insurance: free (thanks to World Nomads)
- Lodging: $270 ($30 per night)
- Meals: $270 ($30 per day)
- Ground transportation: $250
- Activities: $700
- Cushion (unknown expenses): $200
- Total: $2,340-2,840
- Rounded up: $2,400-2,900
We are continuing to build partnerships with companies that can keep the costs of our program low, so that we can put any cost savings directly back into the program and take more groups of students abroad. World Nomads has agreed to provide travel insurance for the group, and Context Travel and Walks, LLC have offered to provide walking and guided tours. These companies have offered their services to us for free because, like you and me, they believe more people should travel more. I’ve been a big supporter of these companies on my website and am thrilled to have them behind us! (I want to make clear that neither I nor the companies involved are receiving any kind of financial “kickback”, and all of our service contracts are held to IRS standards. No one’s pockets are being padded here.) (We’ve also been in touch with an existing educational foundation called Global Glimpse. They’ve provided excellent guidance, advice, and introductions. Many thanks to them!)
As for students and schools, we’ve had a lot of applications and interest but we’re still open to receiving new applications, so if you are, or know of, a teacher whose students would benefit from a trip overseas, please visit this page to apply for our program. Our goal is to have a school chosen by the end of October.
FLYTE will be totally transparent in its expenses. IRS rules (and just good proper ethics) dictate we maintain annual filings that will be available online and accessible to anyone who wants to see where we are allocating our resources. We will also be compiling our own annual report for supporters that will not only adhere to transparency but also show a clear impact assessment of our programs.
Now, with a new school year starting, I want to make another plea for support.
Right now, we’re focusing all our efforts on raising enough money for ONE trip next spring. We need another $30,000 to make this happen. If we can fund one trip, we are going in the right direction and helping this organization “take flyte” (see what I did there?).
If everyone who reads this website donated just $10 we could fund the entire organization for over a year! Think about that — for less than the cost of a night in a hostel, you can help make a difference in a young person’s life. You can help teach someone the power of travel and give him or her the opportunity to see a world they might never have been able to. Let’s pass the power of travel on to others!
Even better, your donation will get you access to updates about the student expeditions, their progress, and our foundation events, as well as messages from the teachers and students about their travels. Supporters will have exclusive access to the latest details on how they are helping change the lives of the next generation.
Right now, all your donations go to paying for visas, passports, flights, accommodation, meals, and everything else involved in a school’s trip. I am covering all administrative expenses for FLYTE at this time.
Note: We’re still waiting for our IRS application to come back so we can have 501(c)3 status. As of now, your donations aren’t tax deductible. This is a lengthy process but the application is on its way! I’ll let you know when we get our status! I want it even more than you do!
FLYTE is beginning to take off with your help — but we still have a ways to go. There’s a lot of behind-the-scenes work going on right now, and I’ll update you again in another month with how things are going!
Not many people have the chance to travel. There are kids who will never cross their town, let alone leave their country. There are kids whose parents and schools don’t have the resources to buy books and upgrade facilities, never mind sending kids overseas.
So often you hear about travelers who take, take, take. Well, let’s show that travelers also give, give, give. We’ve become better people because of our travels, and others deserve that opportunity as well.
Let’s become a community that gives back to people.
Are you a teacher?
Are you a high school teacher in a low-income community and want to take your students on an overseas trip? Well, I want to make that happen! If you are teacher, or know someone who is, and are interested in taking your classroom overseas, please visit our website for our application form! We’re accepting applications until October 15th. It doesn’t matter where in the country you are; we are open to schools in any location!