About Us

Reach the World makes the benefits of travel accessible to classrooms, inspiring students to become curious, confident global citizens. Enabled by our digital platform, classrooms and college student travelers explore the world together.

Reach the World provides direct 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 through a partnership with the Institute for Learning Technologies at Teachers College, Columbia University. Since then, RTW has directly served thousands of students and teachers at school, afterschool and summer school sites in under-served communities, primarily in New York City but also nationwide.

Reach the World was created to solve two major problems faced by youth in under-served communities: the narrowing of the curriculum, which forces out all subjects other than Literacy and Mathematics; and the unequal access to technology tools.  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 world travelers who are studying or exploring around the globe.  RTW identifies and trains volunteer travelers, manages web-based journalistic content posted weekly by these travelers, and delivers training and support to the schools 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 classroom interns, and teacher 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. GeoGames is currrently co-hosted by National Geographic Education.


Reach the World partners with the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program and the Fulbright Program to engage a select group of scholars as RTW correspondents. In the future, RTW envisions working not only with these programs, but also with other college and university partners that share RTW’s commitment to community service and international exchange.

Reach the World is a vendor within the New York City Department of Education. RTW's partners include BELL, YMCA, and Citizen Schools.


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 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.

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 on Vimeo that represents our program from the perspective of our college-age travelers.


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
Jason Kies, Partner, KPMG

Advisory Board
Robert N. Downey, Senior Director, The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc.
Heidi Hayes Jacobs, President, Curriculum Designers, Inc.
George Kalan, President, Orien Ventures, 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”
Mark Zvonkovic

Young Professionals Board
Kaye Han, Associate, Oliver Wyman
Jessica Humenik, Energy Analyst, Ameresco/Applied Energy Group
Jackie Inglesby, Associate, The Boston Consulting Group
Sallie Jian, Director of Business Development & Corporate Operations, Saville Row Society
Kyle Kong, Associate, The Carlyle Group
Killian Marie, Program Engineer, Dassault Falcon Jet
Amanda Micsak, Digital Media Planner, Latina Media Ventures
Gillie Nevel, VP, CVS
Sayako Seto, MBA candidate at Wharton School of Business
Monish Shah, Associate, GIC Special Investments
Andrew Skor, Manager, PWC
Tim Spencer, Associate, The Boston Consulting Group