The Foundation for Learning and Youth Travel Education Helping students bring their education to life

"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

With the students from Anacostia High School in Washington D.C. (I'm in the center!) These students went to Cuba in August 2016. This school district is considered one of the poorest and most dangerous in the country.

Hi there! My name is Matthew Kepnes and I run the travel website Travel has changed my life. It has taught me about the world, the people in it, and myself. It's given me an education I never would have received just inside the classroom. It's shown me there is a big world out there and that I'm capable of surviving - and thriving - in it. As a former high school history teacher, I know the value of an education. I know I'm privileged enough to be able to travel the world and do what I want because of getting a good education. Not everyone gets that chance. Most people never even leave their own state let alone the country (only 35% of Americans have a passport!).

This is especially true for students in underserved communities - from inner city Chicago to the middle-of-nowhere Idaho. These students - in communities and from families with limited resources - don't get a chance to expand their worldview, meet people from other cultures, and bring what they learn in the classroom to life!

That is why in 2015, I created FLYTE. 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 experiences. Their schools and communities lack the resources to make such a trip happen. I wanted to create an organization in which was open to everyone around the country. I wanted an organization that helped people in forgotten parts of the country because everyone deserves a chance to see and learn about the world!

Excelsior Academy students and teachers from Newburgh, New York. They are going to Quito in 2017!

As someone who knows the power of education and travel, I wanted to give students a chance to see beyond their borders, and show them that there is a world of possibility out there if they grab it. Moreover, given the political climate around the world today, I think this is more important than ever! Too many people are trying to close doors instead of open them.

The education system in the United States lacks a focus on global issues, history, and awareness. As the world has become more globalized and the need to understand other cultures and societies is more important than ever for employment, this inattention puts United States students at a serious disadvantage. Without an understanding of the world, students will find it harder to fit into a globalized economy that requires them to know and understand people from a variety of cultures and backgrounds.

At FLYTE, we work with students in underserved communities to promote the benefits of travel, education, and cultural awareness by funding overseas educational programs. We provide teachers and students with the planning and funding they need to take what they learn in the classroom and put it to use in the real world!

Anacostia students in Cuba

"Malcolm X states that “Education is the passport to the future.” I am so grateful for this trip to Cuba and to gain an education about another culture.” - Ahmad, senior at Anacostia

Current Accomplishments

In 2016, FLYTE raised over $88,000 USD to run two classroom trips and help fund some of our 2017 trip. We sent students from the BEST Academy in Atlanta, GA to Mexico and students from Anacostia High School in Washington D.C. to Cuba. The money was raised through the combined efforts of an online donor campaign, with a targeted focus on contributions from Nomadic Matt’s readership, BOD fundraising, and other individual donations. FLYTE has also formed a number of partnerships with companies that provide discounted tours, insurance, and travel support. These partners include World Nomads Travel Insurance, Context Travel, Walks, Inc., Travel Italian Style, and Travendly. These partnerships allow us to help keep the costs of the trips down and ensure that our teachers are in capable hands. Because of these trips, 28 students now have passports!

The students from BEST Academy in Atlanta, GA on their trip to Mexico. The students in this school come from a very high poverty area.

“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

Fundraising Strategy

FLYTE’s primary funding sources will include private donations, federal and state contracts, grants from private foundations, and donor drive campaigns mainly targeted at Nomadic Matt’s existing readership.

  1. Individual giving: Donation campaigns will be targeted toward Nomadic Matt’s readership. Two large-scale annual online drives will be planned, with individual donations encouraged at every NM event and via newsletters, etc. Cash and one-time donations can also be marketed toward specific tiers of commitments (e.g., $3,500 funds an entire student scholarship, $150 funds teacher curriculum development, etc.).
  2. Corporate giving and sponsorship: Businesses can provide cash, grants, or in kind services. Businesses are also encouraged to participate in FLYTE fundraising events throughout the year.
  3. Private foundation grants: These awards will make up a major part of FLYTE’s sustainable funding forecasting.
  4. Federal and state grant: Similar to foundation grants, we will target the same areas.
Students from BEST Academy helping other kids study in Mexico

Where Your Donation Goes

Our goal right now is to raise at least $300,000 for 2017. That would allow us to fund up to five trips and have a full time director for the organization. Each trip costs $35-40,000 USD (depending on the number of students going). Our operational costs are extremely low as we have no office overhead (we use the Nomadic Matt offices), I (Matt) paid for our domain and web hosting for the next ten years, and my current developer donates his time for all web issues. Outside of our trip, our only expenses are the executive director's salary and mailings to donors. That means an estimated 20% of our budget will go to supporting the organization while the entire remaining 80% goes directly to the cost of the trips paying for passport fees, flights, accommodations, transportation, food, and activities. According to Charity Watch, that puts us in the "highly efficient" category for charitable organizations.

2017 Partner School: Excelsior Academy

We're excited to work with Excelsior Academy from Newburgh, New York as one of our (first of many we hope) partner schools for 2017. 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 resides in what the FBI has repeatedly named one of the ten most dangerous cities per capita in the United States. In short, there is not a lot of opportunity in this district for students to see the world beyond their borders. Below is a video of the students from Excelsior Academy talking about why they want to go on their trip and the importance of a global perspective:


FLYTE is certified federal 501(c)(3) operating organization, established in December 2015 by Matthew Kepnes, founder of the website Nomadic Matt and author of the best-selling book How to Travel the World on $50 a Day. Matt started FLYTE as a way to help students understand the world beyond their borders and experience the transformative power of travel.

“Staying with my host family, diving into cenotes, and experiencing the Chichen Itza pyramids were some of the best parts of the trip. Traveling abroad exposed me to different cultures and prepared me for the diverse community at college. Because of this trip, I've decided I'm going to study abroad in college.” - Kaleb, BEST Academy student


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