Rustic Pathways Impact Report - 2016

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Rustic Pathways



OUR MISSION Rustic Pathways empowers students through innovative and responsible travel experiences to positively impact lives and communities around the world.


Letter from the Directors


Our Vision


Education. Travel. Philanthropy.


Rustic Pathways’ Student Learning Outcomes


Making Travel Accessible


Responsible Travel


Our Approach to Community Service


The Rustic Pathways Foundation






Latin America


South Pacific


United States


How to Stay Involved



LETTER FROM THE DIRECTORS We can now quantify what families have told us for years—that our programs impact the students who travel with us. As a company committed to developing future leaders, it’s imperative our travel programs foster the characteristics and capabilities that will ensure students succeed academically, professionally, and personally. We created our Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs) to define the skills we believe will help students make decisions with a global perspective and create a positive impact on the world. Designed in conjunction with educational experts and with input from our staff, our SLOs are grounded in academic research and allow us to intentionally design program curricula to help foster specific non-cognitive growth in our students. We measured this growth for the first time this year using our Student Impact Evaluation, a tool developed to help us determine whether students are in fact growing in these intended ways. We’re excited to present the initial results of this evaluation in the following pages of the report (hint: they are!). Like last year, our 2016 Impact Report also includes the results of our Community Impact Evaluation. This year Rustic Pathways programs impacted 37,491 lives. This number is a weighted calculation completed by Sustainable Travel International, a NGO we’ve partnered with to evaluate our ongoing global impact. It includes our community partners, international staff, and the students who participated in Rustic programs this past year. As always, we’re continuing to assess the sustainability and community impact of our programs as well as refine reporting processes and metrics. This year, we’ll expand our Student Impact Evaluation to include our gap year and group travel programs. We’ll also use it to evaluate the growth experienced by students in the pilot class at Thrival World Academies, our partner with whom we’re sending 13 high school juniors abroad for three months as part of their public school curriculum in Oakland, California. Putting these processes in place to evaluate the community and student impact of our programs will help us create the most transformative experiences for students. It will also ensure that our programs and operations are designed to have the greatest positive impact in our local communities. Thank you,

Ann Fuller Erin Murphy Community Impact Director Student Impact Director

OUR VISION Rustic Pathways is committed to creating a world where...


Travel is accepted as an essential part of every education

Travel is a model of sustainable development

All people are connected by a shared humanity and all decisions are made with a global perspective

EDUCATION. TRAVEL. PHILANTHROPY. At Rustic Pathways, we work at the intersection of education, travel, and philanthropy. Through our programs we facilitate life-changing educational experiences for students and use travel and philanthropy as a means to achieve sustainable development in the places we visit. We believe that by maintaining clear focus on each of these goals we are not only able to provide the most transformative experience for our students, but are also able to make a positive impact on the communities in which we work. Travel is an incredible opportunity for learning. When intentionally designed to help students understand and process their experiences, travel can also provide an unparalleled opportunity for students to develop essential non-cognitive skills and capabilities that will prepare them for future success in all aspects of their lives. The SLOs we create allow us to intentionally design on-program curriculum and to evaluate whether those experiences are having the impact we intended.


RUSTIC PATHWAYS’ STUDENT LEARNING OUTCOMES At Rustic Pathways, we believe travel provides a unique environment for learning. Our programs are intentionally designed to foster the development of essential skills that can be maximized while being immersed in other cultures. These characteristics and capabilities enable students to achieve personal growth and make positive contributions to the world.

The outcomes we aim to foster in students who travel with us are: 1. Openness to new ideas and experiences: Eagerness and curiosity to learn from the perspectives of others and the ability to incorporate one’s own experiences into a lifelong quest for knowledge and growth. 2. Sense of wonderment: The ability to be amazed and inspired by the world, from the small and seemingly mundane to the powerful and seemingly impossible to understand; recognizing beauty in the unknown while letting the world’s mysteries stir thoughtful questions and give rise to new meanings and understandings; a sense of awe as a driver of one’s passion and achievement. 3. A belief that all people are connected by a shared humanity: Recognizing the innate value of any human being; embracing diversity, and believing that what unites us is stronger than what divides us; understanding the interconnectedness of one’s actions and the notion that individual actions can have global impact; the ability to connect local stories, struggles, and successes to larger structural and systemic issues facing the world. 4. A desire to positively impact the lives of others: A drive to use one’s talents as a force for good in local and global communities; recognizing the power of a series of small actions towards a larger goal and contributing personal effort towards creating change. 5. Empathy: The ability to not just “feel someone else’s pain,” but to walk in their shoes and see the world through their eyes; a more profound ability to switch perspectives and recognize dual viewpoints. Empathy, rather than sympathy or pity, is a precursor to affecting change. 6. Self-Awareness: The ability to define values, motivations, and passions, and to identify how those values are shaped; the ability to assess one’s own strengths and weaknesses, analyze where and how to improve, and to reflect on and re-evaluate previous opinions or decisions; the desire to use an understanding of self to better relate to and communicate with others. 7. Humility: An ability to understand one’s place and importance, to deeply respect others, to recognize others’ talents without comparison to one’s own; to possess a grounded understanding of one’s limitations; to provide service to others without question of their position in society. 8. Grit: Intrinsic determination to persevere through challenges and setbacks without complaint and defer instant gratification in order to reach a set goal. 9. Independence: The ability to think and act for oneself; to take responsibility for and stand behind one’s beliefs and actions; to explore the world confidently and carefully and to find support when necessary. 10. Intercultural Competence: The desire and ability to behave and communicate effectively within and across cultures, to view issues from other perspectives, and to collaborate and engage in decision-making processes with diverse groups. 8


Developing our Student Learning Outcomes To create the SLOs, our staff worked together to articulate the characteristics and capabilities that students should possess to make positive contributions to our world. We defined each SLO based on the behavior we intend students to demonstrate after participating in our programs. Next, working in conjunction with two Ph.D. candidates in education, we tied our definitions to academic literature and existing techniques and scales for measuring each SLO. Then, we created the Student Impact Evaluation to measure the shifts in students we hope to create.

How We Measure Student Impact We surveyed students, parents, and program leaders to learn how each person interprets the impact that a Rustic Pathways program has on students based on our 10 SLOs. Quantitative data collected through a survey tool demonstrates what and how much students are learning, and qualitative data helps illustrate how and why students are learning.

Quantitative Methods Survey data captures both attitudes and self-reported probable actions to understand not only what students think they value, but also how their values may be enacted in the world. We administer our student self-report survey before and after they travel on programs, and six to nine months afterward, which allows us to observe growth from a baseline. Program leaders also measure student growth in each SLO before and after programs.

Qualitative Methods Our evaluation also includes a three-tiered approach to better understand how students show more growth in some learning outcomes and why that occurs. Students report the improvements they perceived in focus groups and their parents are asked openended survey questions to assess those perceptions. Program leaders also report what they see in interviews and experts in social and emotional learning observe students during programs.


3,021 students completed pre- or postprogram surveys

971 pre-program, 918 post-program

340 students completed both surveys

680 responses compared to show individual student growth




growth in openness to new ideas and experiences

growth in independence

30.9% 25.8%

growth in grit

growth in desire to positively impact the lives of others


growth in the belief that all people are connected by a shared humanity


30.9% growth in self-awareness

10 Education

growth in sense of wonderment


44.8% growth in empathy



growth in humility


growth in intercultural competence

AVERAGE STUDENT GROWTH IN EACH STUDENT LEARNING OUTCOME COMPARING PRE- AND POST-SURVEY RESULTS* Openness Wonderment Shared Humanity Self-Awareness Humility Intercultural Competence Empathy Desire to Positively Impact Grit Independence 4


6 *on a scale from 1 to 6

THE FUTURE OF OUR STUDENT IMPACT EVALUATION We are continuing to rigorously test and evaluate our measurement tools, while also developing even more robust research methods. While this is the first year of a multiyear study, the size and richness of this data is unique in education abroad and our results are meaningful. We also plan to expand our impact evaluation to include our Group Travel and Gap Year students starting this year. As we gather more data and apply our evaluation methods to all students, we will be able to use student impact as a key performance indicator for our organization, highlighting our successes as well as areas where we might refine our programs and increase our impact on students.

Education 11

How do we measure whether students experienced growth in their DESIRE TO POSITIVELY IMPACT THE LIVES OF OTHERS as a result of participating in a Rustic Pathways program? Program Leaders report an average of

1.07 points growth in students' Desire to Positively Impact the Lives of Others (from a 3.93 to a 5)

After returning from programs,

72.8% of students reported high or very high Desire to Positively Impact the Lives of Others

12 Education

44.8% 116 parents (75%) mentioned the Desire to Positively Impact the Lives of Others as one of the most salient changes they noticed in their child upon their return.

of students reported growth in their Desire to Positively Impact the Lives of Others

Our evaluation team points out that group discussion and reflection on service, as well as the close interactions with individuals who have different cultures and social positions contribute to students’ realization of the need and rewarding nature of Positively Impacting the Lives of Others.

Lisette Dubow, of Princeton, New Jersey, was one of many students who demonstrated the desire to positively impact the lives of others after returning from her Rustic Pathways program. She wanted to continue what she started during Sacred Valley Service and noted the differences between the challenges that American students face compared with students who live near Machu Picchu.

"After being in Peru and seeing the struggles that some of these kids go through on a daily basis just to receive an education, I felt magnetized toward the cause. The fact that they have the motivation and grit to hike up to three hours a day just to get an education is incredible to me. I really want to start appreciating the education and opportunities that I receive, and I want other people to begin to appreciate them too!" Throughout this report, we will highlight different examples of students demonstrating growth in our 10 SLOs. Education 13

MAKING TRAVEL ACCESSIBLE We believe that every student should have the opportunity to learn through travel. We are committed to making our transformational experiences available to as many students as possible.

46 Service Scholarships awarded in 2016 Granted to students who display financial need and merit, these scholarships cover up to 100 percent of the program cost. Service scholarships are only available for service programs and to students who have not yet traveled with us.

11 International Ambassador Scholarships awarded in 2016 An elite, competitive scholarship designed to give exceptional students from around the world a unique opportunity to learn about other cultures through community service, this award is only available to students outside of the United States.

4 Gap Year Ambassador Scholarships awarded in 2016 Awarded to high school graduates seeking rich cultural learning experiences before starting college, these scholarships are awarded based on merit and need. Students who receive a gap year scholarship are funded for a full semester of travel. Apply for one of our scholarships at

A scalable solution to make study abroad more equitable To further our goal of making travel accessible to all students as an essential part of every education, we have partnered with Thrival World Academies. With Thrival, we’re building the largest network of public high schools designed to provide academically rigorous and credit-bearing international educational opportunities to students of all socioeconomic backgrounds. The first class of high school juniors in Oakland is preparing to leave for Thailand, where they will continue their coursework abroad while being immersed in the local culture. Students will spend three months of the academic year in country, staying with host families while participating in linkedlearning excursions that relate directly to their State of California common core curriculum. We’ll monitor students using Rustic’s Student Impact Evaluation methodology, one of several ways Thrival will review the students’ success during and after the program. For more information about our partnership with Thrival World Academies, visit

14 Travel

RESPONSIBLE TRAVEL We are committed to decreasing our environmental footprint, stimulating local economies, supporting community initiatives, and teaching our students responsible travel practices. We travel to locations where tourists rarely go, buy goods from locally-owned businesses, and respect local cultures and customs. Our programs provide direct support for education, infrastructure development, conservation, and other community projects.

Partnership with Sustainable Travel International We partner with Sustainable Travel International, a global NGO, to evaluate our ongoing impact and to operate in the most responsible manner possible. In 2015, we undertook an assessment of our country operations to better understand the impact on the places we travel. Our work in this area currently focuses on our program operations across four categories: policies to promote sustainability, sustainability of vendors, economic impact, and community project practices and outcomes. In 2016, we expanded this work and took steps to achieve specific targets to improve the sustainability of our programs. • We developed a system to assess vendors using 11 sustainability criteria and set a goal to gather this information for all vendors by the end of 2017. • We developed and implemented training about responsible travel for Program Leaders and created country-specific Codes of Conduct for Responsible Travel.

• We established Sustainability Teams in Costa Rica, India, Tanzania, and the Dominican Republic. • We surveyed students to gauge their satisfaction with our efforts to minimize the environmental impact during programs and 82% indicated they were satisfied.

Travel 15

DEVELOPING NEW PARTNERSHIPS: NEPAL In 2017, we will offer our first student programs in Nepal, but the process of establishing this partnership began in 2015. We collaborated with the Namsaling Community Development Centre (NCDC), a Nepali organization that promotes community self reliance and improves livelihoods through equitable and sustainable development. NCDC works with Village Development Committees to support the establishment of long-term community development plans. Our Nepal Director Kai Johnson traveled with NCDC staff to five communities, from eastern to central Nepal and in the upper and middle Himalayan ranges, to explore potential partnerships. Rustic students will join forces with NCDC in the year ahead.

FIVE AREAS OF FOCUS Education Infrastructure Environment and Animal Welfare Community Health and Social Services Economic Development

16 Philanthropy

OUR APPROACH TO COMMUNITY SERVICE We believe through responsible travel and well-designed service initiatives, our students can gain an understanding of pressing social and environmental challenges at a global level and help combat these challenges at a local level. We take a comprehensive approach to service, working with community partners from the design process to monitoring and evaluation.

1. Identify and Design Projects with Local Partners We spend time with our local partners and community members on the ground to understand their needs and priorities. We then collaborate to develop projects that address key needs and build on community strengths.

2. Provide Students Opportunities to Engage We collaborate with our partners to create well-defined roles for our students that harness their skills and ensure they make meaningful contributions. Students are able to select programs based on personal interests and skill sets, maximizing both their experience and the success of our service initiatives.

3. Work Together to Achieve Goals Our students join the efforts of our local partners during their programs and work collaboratively to achieve project goals. Students and communities use the unique skills they bring and learn from and about each other.

4. Monitor and Evaluate We conduct regular evaluations with project partners and beneficiaries, evaluate both the process and impact of our ongoing initiatives, and consistently use feedback to improve project design and implementation.

5. Build Long-Term Partnerships We establish partnerships with a long-term view, recognizing that real change can take time. We provide ongoing support to partners and projects, take on initiatives in a range of areas, and work to ensure a lasting impact.

THE RUSTIC PATHWAYS FOUNDATION The Rustic Pathways Foundation is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that supports communities in their efforts to implement locally-driven, sustainable solutions to their development challenges. Last year, the foundation raised more than $250,000 to support projects in communities where we travel. This year, our goal is to double that. The foundation is currently raising funds to support 14 major initiatives. These projects span the globe from India to Costa Rica, and countries in between. Each project aims to support priorities identified by local partners. We encourage you to learn more and get involved by supporting one of these important projects. Balla Sanitation Project India

The Nasivikoso School Project Fiji

Bribri Aqueduct Project Costa Rica

Noche Buena Community Project Costa Rica

Cyclone Winston Relief Fiji

Sacred Valley Project Peru

Education For All | BSDA Cambodia

St. Bernard Project New Orleans, U.S.

Floating Village School Project Cambodia

Refugee Youth Project Baltimore, U.S.

The Monte Coca Batey Project Dominican Republic

Rustic Pathways Children’s Home Thailand

Nambark Ethnic School Project Laos

Wildlife SOS India

DEVELOPMENT AMBASSADORS We have 117 student and staff Development Ambassadors working to fundraise for foundation initiatives this year. This program was launched in 2015 and provides opportunities for Rustic alumni to continue supporting our global initiatives.

Demonstrating SLO: A Belief That all People are Connected by a Shared Humanity “The service was truthfully exhausting, but it was by far my favorite part of the trip. I got to know the people in this village. I did not expect to become friends with them before I went, because I didn’t realize how much time we would get to spend together. And I didn’t realize how similar we were. They live a hard life, work hard from dawn to dusk to barely support their families, with little hope for a change. That could be me. It all comes down to where you are born.”

Annie Reller Beaux Arts Village, Washington

F OR MOR E INF OR M AT ION about the Rustic Pathways Foundation, its mission, and the 14 global projects it supports, please visit



Philanthropy 17



Ourikt Kindergarten Tighza Valley, Morocco

Early childhood education is so important that the United Nations made ensuring access to pre-primary education one of its Sustainable Development Goals in 2015. In Morocco, we partnered with the community-led Al-Baraka Association in Ourikt, a small farming village in the High Atlas Mountains, to build a preschool and kindergarten for the community. The classroom was completed in August and classes began in October. Before the project was completed, there was no formal school for children younger than 7. Now they will start school at age 4.



25 students attend the school in Ourikt



Jane Goodall Institute Kigoma, Tanzania

We launched a new partnership last year with the Jane Goodall Institute in Tanzania and their youth-led community action program, Roots & Shoots. The Jane Goodall Institute works to protect great apes and their habitats, sustainably improve human livelihoods, and inspire youth around the world to create action and positive change. Rustic Pathways students joined forces with 19 Tanzanian Roots & Shoots youth volunteers to build tree nurseries that will support reforestation efforts in the communities of Kalinzi and Makongoro in the region around Gombe Stream National Park. 2 tree nurseries built 3 water tanks installed 9,954 seedling tubes prepared



Midabini Primary School Toilet Project Mang’ola Juu, Tanzania

In 2016 we partnered with the Midabini Primary School in a sub-village of long-time community partner Mang’ola Juu, a community of about 700 residents and 170 primary school students. We hired two local masons to lead construction and the Village Committee organized community volunteers to assist along with Rustic Pathways students. The toilet was built using designs from the district engineer and by consulting with the district government. 1 toilet block built 6 latrines completed

By Invitation Only Critical Issues Program

PEACE, WONDER, AND UNDERSTANDING ISLAM As part of our By Invitation Only initiative, each year Rustic Pathways will select up to 15 students to participate in one of our Critical Issues programs, completely free. We are seeking students with a diverse set of experiences to study the most pressing challenges facing our world and become change makers in their local and global communities. This year’s program in Morocco focuses on creating peace and celebrating diversity in a multicultural society.









Ngwe Taung Preschool Ngwe Taung Village, Myanmar

This year Rustic Pathways partnered with Ngwe Taung Primary School and Village Leadership Committee to build a preschool classroom to provide access to pre-primary education for 3-to 5-year-olds in Ngwe Taung. The village is located on an island in the Irrawaddy River, outside the city known as Old Bagan. Most community members work as farmers and sell produce in Old Bagan, while others work as carpenters or laborers. The village is only accessible by a 15-minute boat ride and 30-minute walk through farmland. In addition to being one of the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals, early childhood education is also a priority for the Myanmar government. Finishing work is underway on the classroom and the facility is already in use. Community members will contribute 30 percent of material costs for the construction and have created a plan to provide ongoing wages for a kindergarten teacher. Demonstrating SLO: Openness to New Ideas and Experiences “I’m going to take home the fact that I have friends in Thailand and I have friends in Myanmar, and even though I might not see them again, I want to keep making friends from different cultures. I learned how to really travel, that the best way to learn about the culture is to make friends. If you keep meeting people and having new experiences, you can make everywhere feel comfortable.”

Caroline Hect Newtown Square, Pennsylvania


21 students currently attend the new preschool


Six Degrees Café Mae Sariang, Thailand

Rustic Pathways alumna Rebecca Rosenzweig was awarded a $10,000 Davis Projects for Peace grant, and in cooperation with Rustic Pathways, created a café that serves as a vocational training program at our Hill Tribe Support Base in Mae Sariang. Rebecca was inspired by her service with Rustic to design a project to help local students learn additional skills to make them more competitive for jobs in nearby Chiang Mai. Youth members of the Karen, a Hill Tribe people who receive education support through the Rustic Pathways Children’s Home, run the café. They receive training in budgeting, staff management, food preparation, and customer service. They also gain valuable experience using English language skills interacting with the café’s clients who are primarily Rustic students. In June, Rebecca returned to Thailand to start the café. Rustic donated construction materials. Rebecca bought appliances and other supplies with her grant funding, then helped train the café volunteers. A local manager will continue to lead the vocational program and café.

Demonstrating SLO: Intercultural Competence “We all have the same yearning for inner peace, love, and happiness. I saw this firsthand in Mae Sariang’s diverse population in how the locals communicate and live together in harmony.”

Rebecca Rosenzweig Los Angeles, California



Wildlife Conservation in India Agra, India

Wildlife SOS works throughout India to protect wildlife and their habitats through community rehabilitation, wildlife crime tracking, and animal rescue operations. For several hundred years, the members of the Kalandar community in northern India trained sloth bears to dance as a source of income. In 2002, Wildlife SOS started a project to protect these dancing bears and have since rescued more than 1,000 bears from the streets. They take an integrated approach to solving the complex challenges at play—from rehabilitating the bears, to providing job training and seed money to Kalandar families to support alternative incomes. Rustic Pathways students assist bear keepers with their daily work. We also support Wildlife SOS’ Elephant Conservation and Care Center near Agra, where elephants rescued from abusive living conditions are rehabilitated. Wildlife SOS has rescued 20 elephants this year. 342 hours of service completed



Prek Toal Primary School Prek Toal, Cambodia

Prek Toal is one of many communities located along the Tonlé Sap, the largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia. There are more than 1.5 million people that depend directly on the lake for their livelihoods and approximately 70 percent of households here earn less than $1,000 per year. Overfishing and changes to the environment from dam construction and other factors make fishing as a primary source of income a challenge for many people. Rustic Pathways has partnered with the elementary school in Prek Toal since 2012 when we supported some minor repairs and improvements to its facilities. We quickly realized that the school’s needs were more significant. Most of the village’s structures are stilted or floating on the water, and the school is sinking. One of the classrooms is no longer usable, forcing teachers to divide students into smaller groups to attend school. The Rustic Pathways Foundation is raising funds to support the construction of a new school, which will be stilted on land—a design expected to last much longer than the current floating structure. 44% of the funding necessary for the $100,000 project raised

Demonstrating SLO: Self-Awareness “I looked at a lot of different trips. I picked (Come With Nothing in Thailand) because I was scared of it and I wanted to do something that scared me. And I did not think I would be able to do it. This whole trip has been a lot about me proving myself wrong. Yeah, so I don’t know, that’s just been a really valuable experience for me and something that I’m going to take back that I’m stronger than I think I am.”

Chloe Schwartz Pepper Pike, Ohio




Environmental Conservation and Restoration Charco Azul and Lomas de Banao, Cuba

We opened programs in Cuba in 2016 and partnered with National Organization for the Protection of Flora and Fauna (Flora y Fauna). Working with biologists and conservation specialists along the Zaza River, students harvested mangrove seedlings upriver and planted them in deforested areas along the coastline. The red mangrove is an essential part of the local ecosystem and serves as a protection barrier against wind and wave surges during tropical storms and hurricanes for local fishing communities. Students also supported reforestation and conservation efforts at Lomas de Banao Ecological Reserve. They collected seeds and seedlings of endemic species, worked in the nursery to harvest and cultivate endemic species, planted seedlings in areas where further biodiversity is needed, and built erosion control barriers to improve soil conditions.





10,350 mangrove seeds planted 1,050 endemic tree seedlings planted 40 erosion barriers built 29


Perka Norte Tourism Cooperative Lake Titicaca, Peru

In the rural indigenous communities of the high plains surrounding Lake Titicaca, we continued to support a multifaceted initiative in partnership with local families and community leaders to diversify local economies while improving basic sanitation, nutrition, and living standards. The goal of the initiative is to implement a sustainable rural tourism cooperative that will generate new income for an otherwise subsistence farming community. The project began with community members forming and legalizing a community tourism association. Rustic Pathways students have supported the construction of bathrooms, eco-kitchens, greenhouses for crop diversity, and small guest rooms that will be used to host visitors working alongside local families. Aside from the economic benefits, this project will also work to combat urban migration, poor nutrition, and disease. 8 toilet and shower facilities constructed

“The work Rustic Pathways is doing here is amazing. During several years we tried our best to get the job done from the local government but it never happened. All the work we are doing here is really necessary and the living conditions will improve greatly when we finish the project.�

Elmer Tique Chambilla Local Project Manager




Water Supply and Blackwater Treatment Systems

Chachagua Eco Trails Project

After three years working with our local partner Obra Social Salesiana to install water systems in rural communities in the Jarabacoa region, we began a new initiative in 2015 focused on filtering wastewater from toilets, also known as blackwater. The Jarabacoa region is home to three major rivers, the North Yaque, the Jimenoa, and the Baiguate, which are increasingly polluted by growth and development. Most communities lack treatment systems and wastewater from toilets and other home uses re-enters the rivers untreated.

We embarked on a multiyear project with the Chachagua Community Development Association (ADI Chachagua) to create a community park and trail system along the Chachagua River. The project is designed to promote environmental education and conservation, and provide public space for the community while allowing residents to earn income from tourism in the region. It will include a series of rest areas, improved trails, and educational information about the flora and fauna among other features.

Jarabacoa, Dominican Republic

To help address this challenge, we partnered with conservation organization Plan Yaque and Rancho Baiguate, an eco-friendly resort that has implemented blackwater treatment systems. Together, we began constructing treatment systems for communities along these vital rivers. Students helped build the two-chamber system where wastewater flows into a sealed pit filled with oxidizing agents like rocks and sand. Aquatic plants are also seeded on top to further filter the water. Blackwater that enters the pit leaves clean and filtered of harmful bacteria.

Chachagua, Costa Rica

2 aqueducts built impacting 1,345 people 3 blackwater treatment systems installed servicing 100 residents “This project has been a dream for many years. And now, with the support of Rustic we are starting to see results one step at a time. With the continuous support and push of Rustic’s management team we have been able to better develop the project and have a clearer idea of what we really want and are able to accomplish.”

Ariel Montero Secretary, ADI Chachagua



Partnership with the National System of Conservation Areas Costa Rica

In 2016, Rustic formalized a partnership with the National System of Conservation Areas (SINAC), part of Costa Rica’s Ministry of Environment, Energy, and Telecommunications. SINAC is responsible for conservation throughout Costa Rica and is known worldwide for its environmental protection achievements. SINAC oversees 11 conservation areas, which cover one-fourth of the country and include 6% of the world’s biodiversity. This agreement will enable us to expand the work we do to support conservation in Costa Rica. Currently we support conservation work in two of the 11 national conservation areas. Within the Central Pacific Conservation Area, we work at the Playa Hermosa-Punta Mala Wildlife Refuge with our Turtle Conservation Program. In the Tempisque Conservation Area, we work with the Camaronal Wildlife Refuge. 10 km of beaches cleaned 4 turtle hatcheries built 1,989 hours of turtle patrols completed



Bribri Aqueduct Project Yorkin, Costa Rica

Yorkin is a rural community reached only by boat or rugged dirt road that is nestled between the Panamanian border and the Caribbean Sea. It is home to an indigenous Bribri community that Rustic Pathways has worked with for more than 10 years. The Bribri Aqueduct Project will provide the Yorkin community with a basic service that most of us take for granted: clean drinking water. The project was identified by the community leadership as a key priority. The Rustic Pathways Foundation, through support from a group of very dedicated alumni, is working to raise the funds to repair and expand the existing water system to better serve the community. Daniel Chan, of Bejing, China, has raised more than $15,000 to date to benefit the Bribri Aqueduct Project with an entrepreneurial fundraising method. He convinced local restaurants to provide a portion of a single day’s profits during individual fundraisers. It’s the most funding raised by any student Development Ambassador.

Demonstrating SLO: Humility “I realized that water supplies and purification was lacking in certain areas of Costa Rica so I was determined to make a change. In my perspective, we as mankind should be taught to help those in need.”

Daniel Chan Bejing, China







Cyclone Winston Relief Fiji

Cyclone Winston, the strongest storm ever recorded in the Southern Hemisphere, hit Fiji on February 20, 2016. Winston left a trail of devastation across many of Fiji’s 332 islands. It destroyed hundreds of schools, crops and homes—displacing thousands of local families. The storm ultimately killed 44 people and impacted 350,000 more. In the immediate aftermath, our Fiji team responded by supplying immediate necessities to community partners who had previously not been reached by relief agencies. The Rustic Pathways community responded with incredible generosity by raising $25,000 in the three weeks after the storm. Our team in Fiji bought and distributed food parcels to more than 700 people. But much rebuilding remains. Our partner, Gaunavou Primary School in the Yasawas, was severely damaged. Teachers were able to repair classrooms with salvageable debris, but half the classes are forced to take place in relief tents. We have funded repairs to school toilets and a damaged toilet at the Somosomo Kindergarten. The school needs additional funding to finish classroom repairs. $33,719 raised to date 35


Bavu Sanitation Project Bavu Village, Fiji

Bavu Village is an indigenous Fijian community not far from our Eco-Lodge Base. We have worked together for six years to improve sanitation by building toilets and a footpath. Since our partnership began, we have built 18 toilets and a footpath that now extends about halfway around the village center. The Bavu community has welcomed our students with incredible hospitality and shared with them many lessons about Fijian culture and their approach to life. 3 toilets constructed

“The projects are making a big change in the village. The kids are playing on the pathway and we are not walking in the mud or the flooded water when we go around the village. There’s no more smelly pit toilets or long walks to the toilet. We are also learning a lot about health and hygiene.”

Manoa Tuvakaikoya Turaga Ni Koro (Mayor) of Bavu Village



Chicken Coop Project Momi Bay, Fiji

Rustic Pathways students helped build chicken coops for families in the Momi Bay region to provide a source of supplemental income. The Ministry of Agriculture provides training workshops and Rustic Pathways donates the first round of chicks and feed. 3 chicken coops constructed


Steve Irwin Wildlife Reserve Queensland, Australia

For the second consecutive year, we supported conservation research at the Steve Irwin Wildlife Reserve in northwest Queensland. The reserve is home to rare and vulnerable plants and wildlife. Its ecosystems also perform crucial roles as wildlife refuges and corridors for movement and dispersal of many species of flora and fauna. Through this program for college students, Rustic Pathways supported research by assisting rangers with field work, constructed walkways to improve the research base, and worked to remove invasive vegetation on the reserve.

Demonstrating SLO: Openness to New Ideas and Experiences “One of the best parts about traveling with Rustic is how immersed in the culture you are. You don’t get that with just a trip with your family to come and see all the tourist things. Or other travel programs, for that matter.... I feel like I took home so much more on my Rustic trips than I did on any other program.”

Jessi Krevitt Scarsdale, New York





The Refugee Youth Project Baltimore, Maryland

In 2015, we partnered with the Baltimore City Community College’s Refugee Youth Project (RYP). RYP provides support and services to refugees to ease their transition into American society. It creates a safe environment for refugee children to improve their literacy skills, enhance their knowledge of culture, engage in enriching extracurricular activities, and grow to be confident, caring children. Through this partnership, RYP is able to serve more students at its summer academy. Rustic Pathways students coordinate group activities and assist teachers with English reading and writing lessons. Rustic Pathways Program Leaders provide training and guidance to students to ensure they are well prepared for their role. 100 refugee youth participated in activities 1,351 service hours completed “Knowing we have such valuable partners relieves a lot of stress for our staff. We also believe this experience raises awareness of the international refugee crisis. When RP staff and volunteers build relationships with refugee youth, the likelihood that they will become advocates for refugees increases. The issue is not just something they see on the news or in the paper. It becomes more tangible, more real. It makes me happy that we are able to provide a bridge for this transformation to take place.”

Kursten Pickup Refugee Youth Project Coordinator



St. Bernard Project New Orleans, Louisiana

Rustic Pathways has partnered with the St. Bernard Project (SBP) in New Orleans for 7 years. SBP is a national disaster resilience and recovery organization founded in St. Bernard Parish in 2006 in response to Hurricane Katrina. It has rebuilt more than 640 homes in New Orleans and more than 1,150 homes nationwide in seven states. Demonstrating SLO: A Desire to Positively Impact the Lives of Others “The whole trip was incredibly meaningful for me, however, it was the last day of work with SBP at the house that meant the most. We met the man whose home we were working on and after hearing his story I knew I had to stay involved and do what I could to keep bringing people home. Throughout 9th and 10th grade I was able to create posters and wristbands about SBP and what they do and ended up raising thousands of dollars. I am also not only involved with SBP in New Orleans, but I have recently become involved with their office in [Queens, NY].”

Ellie Gottesman New York, New York Ellie is being honored at SBP’s annual fundraiser for her continued service to the organization this year


“Here in New Orleans, a city in the 11th year of a projected 15- to 20-year recovery, we get calls for assistance every week from people who have suffered one challenge after another, such as contractor fraud and insufficient insurance payouts, which keep them from fully recovering,” SBP Volunteer Coordinator Judy Bradshaw said. “SBP could not bring these families home without the support of volunteers.” 1,335 days of service completed


Friends of the Inyo Central California

Friends of the Inyo is a conservation organization dedicated to stewardship of the Eastern Sierra region of California. The Eastern Sierras are home to 35 percent of California’s native species including Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep, Owens Valley pupfish, and more than 200 endemic plants found only in this part of the world. This year, Rustic Pathways students supported the Friends of the Inyo’s work to restore trailheads, campsites, and other areas in the Eastern Sierras. 780 service hours completed in the Eastern Sierras

“The partnership with Rustic Pathways has allowed Friends of the Inyo to reach the younger generation, which is tough. We do not usually have a lot of high school students at our volunteer events and it is tough to engage that demographic in the outdoor setting. With this partnership we have been able to do so and have a profound impact on these students’ experiences on the trip. In addition to this, the sheer amount of work that we accomplished and all of the different places that we improved would not have been possible without Rustic Pathways.”

Casey Penn Stewardship Program Manager



HOW TO STAY INVOLVED Lend a Hand Enroll in a spring break or summer program for 2017 and gain hands-on experience with one of our service projects. Get to know the communities and work alongside local villagers as you work together toward a common goal.

Volunteer Locally Think about the causes you believe in and how you can lend a hand in your hometown. Find local soup kitchens, food banks, animal shelters, and other organizations in need of volunteers.

Keep in Touch Our alumni form a coalition of like-minded students who span the globe. The Alumni Association offers opportunities throughout the year to work with Rustic Pathways and stay involved in communities near and far.

Support the Rustic Pathways Foundation We believe it is our responsibility to actively contribute to the communities where we travel. We build partnerships with community associations, schools, and NGOs to support local development goals aimed at reducing poverty, protecting the environment, and making communities better places to live. Help us achieve our vision of creating a world where travel is a model of sustainable development by contributing to the projects where our students travel and serve. Visit to learn more about our foundation’s work and the projects we support. Apply to become a Development Ambassador or set up a personal fundraising page to directly contribute toward a project you care about.

Follow Our Impact We believe our rigorous approach advances the measurement of student impact and contributes new understandings of non-academic learning to the field of experiential learning. We look forward to collaborating with other industry leaders who have expertise and insights to share. If you would like more information or to work together as a partner, please visit 43