Reach the World makes the benefits of travel accessible to classrooms, inspiring students to become curious, confident global citizens. Enabled by our digital platform, K-12 classrooms and volunteer travelers explore the world together.
Reach the World provides full-service programming to school, afterschool and summer school sites in New York City, and online programming to sites nationwide. The National Geographic Society Education Foundation named RTW a Model Program in Geography Education and the HP Catalyst Initiative named RTW a world innovator in STEM+ education.
Reach the World was founded in 1998 by Heather Halstead and Marc Gustafson. The program began by serving classrooms in Harlem, NY through a partnership with the Institute for Learning Technologies at Teachers College, Columbia University. For the first ten years, RTW operated one global journey per year that hundreds of classrooms followed online.
By 2009, technology improvements allowed Reach the World to begin engaging volunteer travelers as our voices in the field. RTW now matches volunteer travelers who are studying, interning or exploring abroad with K-12 classrooms. Since 2009, 814 travelers have shared their journeys online with more than 17,000 youth in the U.S.
Read more about the case for geography education here.
Reach the World’s mission is to help elementary and secondary school students and teachers to develop the knowledge, attitudes, values and thinking skills needed for responsible citizenship in a complex, culturally diverse and rapidly changing world. Through its interactive website, RTW enriches the curriculum by connecting classrooms to volunteer travelers who are exploring the globe. RTW identifies and trains volunteer travelers, manages web-based content posted weekly by these travelers, and delivers training and support to the sites in its programs. Most of RTW’s travelers are college students on study abroad programs around the world, while others are independent explorers.
Reach the World provides two levels of service. For sites located in New York City, the RTW Full Program includes traveler:classroom matching, video conferencing, on-site support from Global Learning Leaders and professional development. For sites located outside of New York City, the RTW Online Program includes traveler:classroom matching and video conferencing.
Reach the World’s website also hosts GeoGames, a set of interactive games that teach core geographic literacy. GeoGames is based on a multi-year geography research study by RTW and researchers at Teachers College, Columbia University. GeoGames won the Travelocity GENIP Award for Excellence in Geography Education, a national honor.
Reach the World partners with the Institute of International Education to engage Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship and Fulbright ETA travelers. Beginning in 2016, RTW will engage with other campus and association partners that share our commitment to community service and digital exchange.
Reach the World administers global competence and geographic literacy surveys. Through participation in RTW, all students correspond with someone in another country, compared to 11 percent nationwide. All RTW teachers deliver weekly instruction about foreign cultures and environments, compared to 23 percent nationwide. RTW makes a statistically significant impact on students' college and study abroad aspirations; their ability to link academic study to global careers; and their empathy for foreign cultures and environments.
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 educators.
18 Years of Virtual Exchange
Reach the World is celebrating its 18th year of engaging youth and travelers in virtual exchange! Please view a short video describing the histor of RTW.
Board of Directors
Pat Hedley, Advisory Director, General Atlantic LLC (Chair)
Kashif Akhter, Senior Manager, Global Business Development, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP
Bob Altman, President, Handmade TV
Jane Atherton, Managing Director, Financial Institutions Group, Citigroup
Michele Davis, Global Head of Corporate Affairs, Morgan Stanley
Lisa Gorke, Vice President of Talent, Integra Partners LLP
Heather Halstead, Executive Director, Reach the World
Katy Huberty, Managing Director, Research, Morgan Stanley
Robert N. Downey, Senior Director, The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc.
Heidi Hayes Jacobs, President, Curriculum Designers, Inc.
Stacey Paul, Principal and Founder, Novel Brand Partners
Charles de Segundo, Senior Vice President, PIMCO
Clinton A. Vince, Partner, Dentons LLP
D. Grant Vingoe, Vice Chair, Ontario Securities Commission
Richard Wiese, Explorer and Host of ABC’s “Born to Explore”
Young Professionals Board
Chris Buffum, Teacher, MESA Charter High School
Mary Forman, Senior Associate, KPMG
Bhavna Hosakere, Consultant, The Hackett Group
Jessica Humenik, Energy Analyst, Ameresco/Applied Energy Group
Jacki, Inglesby, Consultant, Boston Consulting Group
Sallie Jian, Director of Business Development & Corporate Operations, Saville Row Society
Kyle Kong, Associate, Carlyle Group
Gary Li, CEO, FortheChef.com
Killian Marie, Program Engineer, Dassault Falcon Jet (Chair)
Amanda Micsak, Sales, Roubini Global Economics
Gillie Nevel, Senior Director, Store Brands Strategy & Analytics, CVS Health
Juan Prajogo, Project Leader, Boston Consulting Group
Sayako Seto, Former Engagement Manager, Oliver Wyman, Current MBA Candidate
Monish Shah, Associate, GIC Special Investments
Andrew Skor, Director, PriceWaterhouseCoopers
Tim Spencer, Associate, Boston Consulting Group