"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
Hi there! My name is Matthew Kepnes and I run the travel website nomadicmatt.com. 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!
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!
"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
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!