Reach the World's vision is to build a pipeline of globally-competent students and educators who will succeed in and steward the 21st Century global community. RTW’s mission is to build, deploy and evaluate a set of global education and mentoring programs that engage disadvantaged students throughout the K-16 academic years. Since 1998, RTW has been a leader in the effort to ensure that all students are prepared to participate, interact and thrive in today’s global community and economy. The program is headquartered in New York City. The National Geographic Society Education Foundation named RTW a Model Program in Geography Education.
Reach the World transforms the energy of volunteer world travelers into a mentoring and teaching resource for disadvantaged youth. RTW selects and trains a corps of volunteer travelers each semester. RTW then makes one-on-one matches between these travelers and classrooms in underrepresented school, afterschool and summer school sites. Through a highly structured, Standards-based program of web-based correspondence, videoconferencing and collaborative projects, RTW students go on virtual journeys with their global mentors and expand their worldview in the process. RTW also delivers technology and curricular support via classroom assistants drawn from graduate and undergraduate programs of Education.
Most of Reach the World’s travelers are college students on academic study abroad programs. In 2009, RTW began partnering with the Institute of International Education’s Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program to engage a select group of its study-abroad scholars as volunteer travelers and mentors for the RTW website. The Gilman Program offers awards for study abroad for U.S. undergraduate students who are receiving Federal Pell Grant funding. RTW also partners with the Fulbright Program. In the future, RTW envisions working with other college and university partners that share RTW’s commitment to community service and international exchange.
Reach the World also aims to redesign geography education for the 21st Century through its GeoGames curriculum. GeoGames is a family of geography learning games originally funded by the National Geographic Society Education Foundation and based on research by Dr. Susan Lowes at Teachers College, Columbia University. GeoGames won the Travelocity GENIP Award for Excellence in Geography Education, a national honor.
Have you traveled? Has anyone shared their travel stories with you? Has this affected your worldview? If you can answer “Yes” to any of these questions, then you understand the mission of Reach the World. RTW is capitalizing upon an existing energy in our society – travelers – and turning it into an educational resource for all children and teachers. Through Reach the World, the age-old tradition of traveling and sharing stories makes the leap into the digital age – and for once, disadvantaged students are along for the ride.