Today I want to talk about FLYTE, this website’s nonprofit arm.
Over the last few months, I haven’t kept everyone as up to date about the organization as I would like. I apologize for that and promise that, starting today, that will change.
Though quiet, we’ve been doing a lot of work behind the scenes, improving our website and strategy, and creating new partnerships so that FLYTE becomes a more integral part of this website and community.
First, as a refresher, what is FLYTE?
The Foundation for Learning and Youth Travel Education (FLYTE) provides logistical, planning, and financial support to high schools and teachers who want to take their students overseas to give them a real-world context for what they are learning in school — think visiting the D-Day beaches in France or learning about sustainable development in a rainforest in Costa Rica. I started it in 2015 because I believe not enough kids get the chance to travel, see the world, experience other cultures, and realize the practical side to their education!
While many wealthy school districts send students on overseas educational trips, schools and teachers in underserved areas have little or no opportunity to offer their students this experience. Their schools and communities lack the resources to make such a trip happen. I wanted to create an organization that helps people in forgotten parts of the country, because everyone deserves a chance to see and learn about the world!
Thanks to you, FLYTE has raised over $88,000 USD. Last year, we sent a group of students from Atlanta to Mexico and another group from Washington, DC, to Cuba (and we’re preparing for a third trip in June). These students had an amazing time and the trips had a profound impact on them. Here’s what a couple of the students said about their experience:
“This trip means so much to me because having the opportunity to travel outside of the country and my community (an opportunity a lot of peers don’t get to have) is amazing and it really helped open my eyes and see that there is so much more outside of Atlanta.” – Nokio, BEST Academy student
“I would’ve never thought I would have gotten out of my city, where people hurt and do bad things to one another. It makes me want to travel and learn the history of every country in the world!” –Tija, junior at Anacostia High School
So, today, I want to talk about a few other changes with FLYTE:
First, we’ve created a volunteer section on the FLYTE website. Now we’ve created a space where volunteers can help grow the organization with us. I love the passion this community has for FLYTE and I want to better channel that into action. You can visit this page to see our current volunteer needs.
Second, we’re looking for interns. We need help. We’ve tried to do it all alone, but we need some help growing FLYTE. If you live in the NYC area and are fluent in social media, we’d love to have you! We’re a licensed 501(c)(3) and you can get an internship that counts for college credit. You’ll work in my office in NYC with my executive director and the rest of the Nomadic Matt team. You can apply here!
Third, this website now has a dedicated FLYTE page where you can see all the updates and information about the program, school trips, and anything else FLYTE related. Moving forward, FLYTE is going to become a more integral part of this website. Let’s work together as community to show more kids the world (especially in today’s environment where people want to close borders rather than open them)! This page is a work in progress and we’ll be expanding it over the next few weeks!
Fourth, we’re starting weekly emails to donors that will update them on the school, kids, organization, and everything in between. This is something that should have happened a long time ago, and I just never got my act together. My executive director and I are now making it a priority to send out weekly emails to you, so that you will always know what is going on in the organization and the kids, and how your donation is being used.
Fifth, we’ve moved to a new donation platform that will allow us to host donations right on our website (no more going to another website), reduce fees, and accept recurring donations. This new system will ensure that it’s easier to donate and that there are fewer fees when you do! It will be live by tomorrow!
Finally, I need your help again. We’re sending a group of students from Excelsior Academy in Newburgh, NY, to Quito, Ecuador in June! The students will volunteer at Casa Victoria, a grassroots community betterment program located in a struggling section of Quito, and work with local students in an after-school program. Not only will they get to experience another culture, country, and continent but they will also give back while there.
Please help us finish raising money for the students at Excelsior. We’re a little over $20,000 from our goal. I’ll be matching donations up to $10,000, which means that if the community can donate at least that much, we’ll hit our goal and send the kids on their way (any extra money raised will go to future trips)! For most of these students, this will be their first time out of the country so this is a chance to really make an added difference!
Newburgh, once a thriving manufacturing center on the Hudson River, has faced deindustrialization and failed urban renewal attempts that have left the town struggling both financially and socially. Complicating the matter, the Newburgh school district is located in what the FBI has repeatedly named one of the ten most dangerous cities per capita in the United States.
As Excelsior teacher Christine McCartney says, “At Excelsior Academy, we strive to create global citizens who recognize their power to enact change at both the local and global level.”
Here are the students talking about why this is so important to them — and what this trip means to them:
Donations can be made via our Crowdrise page (minimum $10) or via the widget below. Those who donate more than $10 will get some awesome swag:
$50 – For donations of at least this amount, I’m offering my e-books How to Teach English Overseas and The Ultimate Guide to Travel Hacking, and my guides to NYC, Paris, Bangkok, Amsterdam, Stockholm, Thailand, and Hong Kong.
$100 – For donations of at least this amount, you will get the e-books and city guides PLUS a signed copy of the print book How to Travel the World on $50 a Day and a FLYTE t-shirt (US shipping only).
$250 – For donations of at least this amount, you will get all of the above PLUS an hour of travel planning with me, a souvenir from Ecuador, and a thank you card from the students!
If everyone donated just $10, we could fund the entire trip – and many more like it – right away. The more we raise, the more we can help these students and others like them.
Ten bucks isn’t a lot — it’s one less Chipotle meal, a couple of beers, one Old Fashioned, one Uber ride. It’s not much in the grand scheme of things.
If you can’t donate, you can also help by sharing this campaign on Facebook and Twitter, and by emailing your friends, family, cousins, pen pals, coworkers – anyone – and letting them know about this. Help us spread the word about this cause so we can change as many lives as possible. The more people know about this, the better!
Thank you from the bottom of my heart for all your past, present, and future support of this program!
P.S. – Here’s a super awesome and shareable Adobe Spark page that has all the essential information you want to know about FLYTE! You can share this page with your friends, family, and on social media! Please help up spread the word!
P.P.S. – If you’re in the NYC area, I’ll be hosting a meet-up next Thursday at Solar at 7pm. Come down, have fun, meet other travelers, and let’s toast the world!