2017 Rustic Pathways Impact Report

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Rustic Pathways


2017 Impact Report


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


What’s Inside Letter from the Directors


Our Vision


Education. Travel. Philanthropy.


Impact at Rustic Pathways


Student Impact


Community Impact


Making Travel Accessible




Community Heath and Social Services


Economic Development




Environment and Animal Welfare




How to Stay Involved



Letter from the Directors If you’re reading this, you’re probably like us—trying to find a way to help make our world a little bit better. Rustic Pathways is an impact-driven company that has worked since 1983 to improve lives and communities around the world. Each year, the impact that we have on students and with our community partners is greater than the year before. Our annual Impact Report allows us to share how we do that. Thank you for taking the time to review it! In these pages you’ll discover how we assess our impact with students and our community partners. Student Impact For the second consecutive year, students demonstrated growth in our Student Learning Outcomes, the skills, habits, and mindsets that our programs are designed to foster. Students grew on average in 9 of our 10 learning outcomes, reporting the most growth in intercultural competence. We’re able to measure that essential skills growth after introducing our Student Impact Evaluation in 2016. It’s the only tool of its kind in the student travel industry that assesses what and how much students are learning as a result of participating in our programs. Community Impact Our Community Impact Evaluation illustrates how our students, staff, and community partners work together to ensure the success of service projects in five focus areas: Community Health and Social Services, Economic Development, Education, Environment and Animal Welfare, and Infrastructure. For example, students and our community partners worked together to build 16 new houses and repair 156 more. Those projects resulted in a total of 6,043 people receiving housing assistance. Time students spent contributing to those housing initiatives were just a fraction of the more than 186,000 community service hours they completed in 2017. We’re proud of the work our students do in communities around the world and excited they’re developing key skills as a result. Continuing to evaluate how we impact students and local communities will help us create better and more transformative programs while developing sustainable and meaningful service projects. Thank you for taking the time to read the 2017 Impact Report!

Andrea Bouch Rustic Pathways Foundation Executive Director

Erin C. Murphy Rustic Pathways 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 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.


Impact at Rustic Pathways At Rustic Pathways we assess our impact in two ways: through our students and the communities we partner with.

Student Impact To understand our impact on students, we use surveys, interviews with students and their parents, and reports from our trip leaders to determine whether they experienced growth as a result of our programs.

Percentage of students who experienced growth in at least one of our Student Learning Outcomes after participating in a Rustic Pathways program


Community Impact To determine our impact on the communities we partner with, our local staffs monitor the progress of projects and interview community members to assess their satisfaction with the initiatives we worked together to create.

Community Service Hours completed by Rustic Pathways students in 2017


Student Impact Rustic Pathways programs are intentionally designed to encourage students to think critically while challenging them to grow personally. Our experienced Program Leaders work to facilitate meaningful discussion and reflection, and help students learn how to amplify the positive impact travel can have on themselves and others.

Student Learning Outcomes Focusing on these learning outcomes allows us to create programs that enable students to achieve personal growth and make a positive contribution to our world. 1. Openness to New Ideas and Experiences 2. Sense of Wonderment 3. A Belief That All People are Connected by a Shared Humanity 4. A Desire to Positively Impact the Lives of Others 5. Empathy

6. Self-Awareness 7. Humility 8. Grit 9. Independence 10. Intercultural Competence

Why We Measure Student Impact We believe it’s important to measure our impact on students because it allows us to constantly improve our program design and execution to best deliver a meaningful and lasting learning experience. In fact, we’ve seen a strong correlation between satisfaction in our programs and growth in our Student Learning Outcomes.


The Results of Our 2017 Student Impact Evaluation We evaluated how often students felt they embraced behaviors associated with our Student Learning Outcomes. The graph below shows results collected from evaluations before and immediately following 2017 summer programs.

Percentage of Students Demonstrating Growth* Comparing pre-trip and post-trip survey results, the largest percentage of students experienced growth in their belief that all people are connected by a shared humanity. growth in openness to new ideas and experiences growth in humility


36.0% growth in sense of wonderment

growth in desire to positively impact the lives of others



32.7% growth in grit

* Based on responses from 486 high school students who took both the pre- and post-trip surveys.

growth in self-awareness



growth in empathy



growth in intercultural competence

growth in independence

21.6% growth in a belief that all people are connected by a shared humanity


Average Student Growth*

Openness Sense of Wonderment

We found that students grew in nine of 10 Student Learning Outcomes when comparing responses before they traveled to immediately after their program.

Shared Humanity Desire to Positively Impact Empathy Self-Awareness Humility Grit Independence

* Based on 1492 pre-travel responses and 853 post-travel responses from high school students.

Intercultural Competence



6 *on a scale from 1 to 6

initial pre-trip survey post-trip survey

The Future of our Student Impact Evaluation We’ll use the ongoing impact assessment data to design program experiences that drive stronger—and more enduring— growth in the skills, habits, and mindsets we believe are critical for students’ success as they tackle their generation’s most significant challenges. 12

Intercultural Competence This year’s data indicated a strong correlation between growth in intercultural competence, the learning outcome in which students reported the most growth, and our investment in hiring and training exceptional Program Leaders. Intercultural competence is 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. Before the summer, our hiring and staffing team purposefully hired Program Leaders who demonstrated intercultural competence in their application and during their interview. We also introduced a new Program Leader training course in all Rustic countries, including online and in-person versions, that emphasized cultural competencies.

By the Numbers Average growth experienced by boys, the most of any SLO

Average percentage growth students experienced in intercultural competence after participating in a Rustic Pathways program

Average growth experienced by girls, the most of any SLO

Students in this age group experienced the most growth in intercultural competence of any age group that traveled with Rustic Pathways

We expect to see even more growth next year with additional investment in Program Leader instruction in cultural competencies by hiring a consultant to design a new, more rigorous training course.


Community Impact There are three ways that we work to achieve our vision of creating a world where travel is a model of sustainable development that has a positive impact in the places where we operate programs: responsible travel, community service, and the Rustic Pathways Foundation.

1. 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.

2. 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 by: •

Identifying and designing long-term projects with local partners

Providing students opportunities to engage in meaningful service

Working together to achieve community and student goals

Monitoring and evaluating the process and impact of ongoing initiatives

Ensuring projects are sustainable and have a lasting impact

Our community projects focus on the following types of service initiatives: Community Health and Social Services: Health underpins all aspects of daily life. Good health is critical to people’s ability to contribute to the wellbeing of their family and community. Rustic Pathways health projects currently focus on two areas: Health Education and Nutrition. Economic Development Developing economic opportunities is essential to enable people to pull themselves out of poverty and meet basic needs. Rustic Pathways economic development projects currently focus on one area: Income Generation. Education: Safe and engaging learning environments, along with access to education, are essential for student learning. Rustic Pathways education projects currently focus on two areas: School Facilities and Youth Empowerment.


Environmental and Animal Welfare: The environment plays an important role in the livelihoods of many communities and must be sustainably managed for current and future generations. Rustic Pathways environmental service projects currently focus on two areas: Wildlife Conservation and Animal Welfare, and Environmental Conservation and Restoration. Infrastructure: Basic infrastructure is essential to healthy, productive and sustainable communities. Rustic Pathways infrastructure projects currently focus on four areas: Water and Sanitation, Energy, Community Facilities, and Housing.

3. The Rustic Pathways Foundation The Rustic Pathways Foundation is a key piece of how we support the communities where we travel. The foundation is a non-profit organization that was initially started because students returned from programs inspired and wanted to stay involved with the communities they visited with Rustic. Through the foundation, the Rustic Pathways community has raised nearly $190,000 in 2017.

Foundation Highlight

Costa Rica Development Fund: Bribri Aqueduct Project The Bribri community is the largest remaining indigenous tribe in Costa Rica. Rustic Pathways has worked with the Bribri community in Costa Rica for more than 10 years, and specifically in Yorkin since 2014. Decaying infrastructure and the increased demands of a growing community have put the drinking supply in Yorkin, which is only accessible by boat, in jeopardy. After learning about the threat from the Water Committee of Yorkin in 2015, the Foundation launched a campaign to raise $30,000 to build a new aqueduct. The Foundation reached its goal with fundraising help from student Development Ambassadors and broke ground earlier this year. The project is scheduled to be complete by mid-2018, ensure that the community of Yorkin has a sustainable source of clean drinking water.

2017 Regional Fundraising Campaigns

Global General Project Fund

Supporting high-priority needs around the world

Cambodia Education Fund

Making education a reality for young Cambodian students

Costa Rica Development Fund

Supporting essential human needs within rural communities

Dominican Republic Housing Fund

Providing safe and dignified housing for families

Fiji Education Fund

Bringing education closer to home for young Fijian students

India Development Fund

Bettering the lives of humans and animals across India

Laos Education Fund

Providing Laotian students with safe living conditions

Peru (Sacred Valley) Education Fund

Empowering young girls through secondary education

Thailand Education Fund

Supporting Thai students to further their education

U.S. (Baltimore) Refugee Fund

Helping young refugees get a fresh start in their new home

U.S. (New Orleans) Housing Fund

Bringing families home after natural disasters

To learn more about the Foundation, visit rusticpathways.org. 15

Making Travel Accessible Rustic Pathways believes every student should have the opportunity to learn through travel.

Scholarships We offer three types of scholarships for students who demonstrate financial need or merit achievements: • Service Scholarships available to high school students • Gap Year Scholarships available to students who are 17 to 21 and have graduated from high school by the time their gap year starts • By Invitation Only Critical Issues Program Scholarships available to high school students from anywhere in the world

Rustic Pathways 2017 Scholarships by the Numbers

Service Scholarships

Gap Year Scholarships

By Invitation Only Scholarships

By Invitation Only Critical Issues Program Scholarship This year, our By Invitation Only program will invite a diverse group of promising change makers to explore the complicated history of racial identity and collective action in the United States. By Invitation Only: Race in America will allow students to explore the complicated history of race, identity, and collective action in the United States. Each year we create a By Invitation Only program and give it away completely free of charge as a way of ensuring the most promising change makers are exposed to the critical issues we believe will shape their generation. More than 400 students applied for last year’s program in Morocco exploring critical issues related to Islamic relations. To apply for a scholarship, go to rusticpathways.com/scholarships. 16

Thrival World Academies To further our goal of making travel accepted as an essential part of every student’s education, we’re continuing to work with Thrival World Academies, which is based in Oakland, California.. Thrival is building the largest network of publiclyfunded and credit-bearing study abroad high schools in the country designed to provide international educational opportunities to students of all socioeconomic backgrounds. Thrival launched its second school site this year in Indianapolis. Its first school in Oakland opened for the 2016-17 academic year. Both schools will take students to Thailand for three months in the spring to explore issues affecting Thai communities from the perspective of local villagers through community-based and project-based learning. For more information about Thrival, visit thrivalacademies.org.


Countries Where Rustic Pathways Works

United States Morocco Cuba Dominican Republic Costa Rica


At Rustic Pathways, we travel because exploring new places and interacting with people from other cultures provides opportunities to learn about ourselves, about others, and about the world in a way nothing else can. Traveling changes our perspectives and shapes who we become. We start to see the world in a completely different way and begin to understand our place in it. That’s why it’s so important to travel now—when you’re young enough to apply these lessons in ways that impact your life. Chris Stakich CEO, Rustic Pathways 18


China India

Laos Vietnam Cambodia

Tanzania Myanmar Thailand Australia


New Zealand


Community Health and Social Services • Health Education • Nutrition

By the Numbers

766 9,490

people received health screenings meals delivered

Countries with Community Health and Social Services Projects Australia


Dominican Republic

United States


Community Health Screening | Thailand Since 2012, Rustic Pathways has been run Community Health service projects through partnerships with four medical clinics near our Ricefields Service Base​outside Udon Thani in northeastern Thailand. These initiatives support rural clinics, which serve as primary care facilities and regional outreach posts for the government to provide care to rural citizens. Rustic students, who get certified in Wilderness First Aid during their program, help set up temporary medical clinics in rural areas and also assist medical professionals with health screenings.


Edible Schoolyard | United States Rustic has partnered with Edible Schoolyard in New Orleans since 2012 to maintain school gardens that cultivate students’ knowledge of and passion for the natural world. Using techniques like weeding, planting, harvesting, and erosion control, Rustic students have helped to create a healthy and whole community where food deserts often restrict access to fresh and local produce. Students at these schools maintain gardens in their classes as they learn to grow their own food and to cook it in new and unique ways.

Demonstrating SLO: Desire to Positively Impact the Lives of Others “I learned a lot about myself while on my trip. I learned that travel and volunteering is something that I want to pursue as I get older. I loved the service we did and can’t wait to find a program for next year with even more service.”

Olivia Tighe Cape Elizabeth, Maine Rebuilding New Orleans, 2017 21

Community Health and Social Services

Health Education

Economic Development • Income Generation

By the Numbers 76

families participating in income generating projects

Countries with Economic Development Projects Costa Rica




Women’s Income Generation | Fiji In many regions across Fiji, women take on caretaker roles, sacrificing their opportunity to earn a living to support children and elderly family members. In 2017, Rustic began a women’s income generation project, which focuses on empowering women through skill-based workshops. This initial project involved three workshops delivered to 47 women across Nabila, Bavu, and Momi villages. They focused on making purses from leftover snack wrappers—simultaneously tackling waste management and recycling along the way. The project continues Rustic’s decades-long partnership with Fijian communities, where we’ve been working since 1996.

Demonstrating SLO: Humility “This immersion experience has truly changed my outlook on human interaction. In the West, we put such an emphases on self promotion and trying to get ‘the next best thing’ but in Fiji, community plays a key role and love is the currency. I cannot wait to go back and visit my new family there.”

Ellie Rudy Austin, Texas Sun, Sand, and International Service in Fiji, 2017

Income Generation

Perka Norte Income Generation Support | Peru Perka Norte is a rural Aymara community of 25 subsistence farming families on the shores of Lake Titicaca. The area climate limits what they grow to corn, potatoes, quinoa, lima beans, and other root vegetables. Many families also catch fish. Rustic partnered with the community and the Perka Norte Sustainable Tourism Association in 2014 to support tourism initiatives in the area. Other communities around the lake have benefited from tourism and Perka Norte wants to promote its culture, language, and community while generating income for local families. 23

Economic Development

Income Generation

Education • School Facility Improvements • Youth Empowerment

By the Numbers

25 194 3,299 4,267

school infrastructure projects education enrichment sessions education enrichment participants total students impacted

Countries with Education Projects Australia




Costa Rica


Dominican Republic





United States


Kong Maha Primary School | Cambodia Rustic began working with the primary school in the village of Kong Maha in 2011. In that time, projects have included installing a fence around the school, building toilets, constructing a library, and providing supplies. Rustic students contributed to the construction of two new classrooms in 2017. These classrooms were originally intended to establish kindergarten at the school, but parts of the main building began collapsing during the summer and the school was forced to create makeshift classrooms beneath tarps outside. Now, the two new classrooms have been earmarked for other grades and should be complete by the end of 2017.

Youth Empowerment

Summer Camp Leadership | Costa Rica Since 2008, our Summer Camp Leadership program has provided hands-on learning opportunities to Costa Rican youth in the La Fortuna region. The seven-day camp allows Rustic students to participate in cross-cultural exchange to facilitate activities with the youth that focus on leadership development, English language improvement, creativity, and teamwork. Local youth attend the camp from 23 different elementary schools in two school districts and return home with lasting memories from their interactions with Rustic students. 8 camp sessions 197 Costa Rican youth participants 8,278 hours of immersive learning

Demonstrating SLO: Shared Humanity “When I left Costa Rica I wasn’t just leaving a country, I was leaving a family.”

Matteo Negron Milan, Italy Summer Camp Leadership in Costa Rica, 2017 25


School Facility Improvements

Environment and Animal Welfare • Wildlife Conservation and Animal Welfare • Environmental Conservation and Restoration

By the Numbers

95km of beaches cleaned 2,944 of animal care service hours trees planted 18,432

Countries with Environment and Animal Welfare Projects Australia




Costa Rica




Dominican Republic

United States

Kangaroo Haven | Australia We partnered with Kangaroo Haven in 2016 to educate students about the challenges associated with protecting Australian wildlife and conservation areas. Students assist in the rehabilitation of rescued kangaroos, which includes feeding young kangaroos and cleaning and maintaining their enclosures. It takes up to 18 months of care before joeys can be returned to the wild.

Environmental Conservation and Restoration

Jane Goodall Institute | Tanzania Rustic has partnered with the Jane Goodall Institute in Tanzania and its youth-led community action program, Roots & Shoots, since 2016. 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 Tanzanian students to help build tree nurseries and construct beehives, both designed to help address poverty in area communities. 6 beehives constructed

2,600 sapling tubes prepared

Demonstrating SLO: Self-Awareness “I can confidently say my month spent in Tanzania changed my life for the better. I have grown in my understanding and acceptance of different cultures, I discovered a strength and resilience inside myself, and I developed relationships with wonderful people.”

Samantha Rosenberg Scarsdale, New York African Wildlife Conservation, Climbing Kili, and Serengeti to Zanzibar, 2017 27

Environment and Animal Welfare

Wildlife Conservation and Animal Welfare

Infrastructure • • • •

Water and Sanitation Energy Community Facilities Housing

By the Numbers

16 16 156 52

water projects 4,215 people with increased access to water new houses built houses repaired 6,043 people received housing assistance sanitation facilities built or improved 3,772 people with increased access to sanitation

Countries with Infrastructure Projects Cambodia


Costa Rica


Dominican Republic







United States



Prek Toal Housing Project | Cambodia Prek Toal is located on Tonle Sap Lake. Though it’s one of the most productive freshwater ecosystems in the world, many of the 1.5 million people who rely on the lake for their livelihoods face increasing challenges from overfishing, changing water levels caused by climate change-related droughts, and hydropower dams built upstream on the Mekong River. Of those families, 70 percent make less than $1,000 per year. Rustic has partnered with the Prek Toal community since 2012 to ensure residents have access to safe, healthy, and dignified housing. 6 houses completed last year (16 houses completed to date)

Demonstrating SLO: Desire to Positively Impact the Lives of Others “She is more interested in world events and constantly refers back to her experience in Cambodia in conversations. She has chosen to do an AP Research project on health care in Cambodia so she will be using her personal experiences to frame that project.”

Dianna Gobler, Sarah’s mom East Quogue, NY Floating Village Service, 2017

Water and Sanitation

Blackwater Treatment Systems | Dominican Republic Rustic began working on water projects in the Jarabacoa region in 2012, focusing on installing aqueducts to provide access to rural communities for three years before starting wastewater filtering projects in 2015. Using a combination of gravity filtration, particle filtration, aquatic plants, and metal oxidation techniques to filter and clean wastewater, our students have prevented wastewater from entering rivers near these mountain communities. Rustic has constructed eight systems to date. 29

How to Stay Involved Lend a Hand Enroll in a spring break or summer program for 2018 and gain hands-on experience with one of our service projects. Get to know the communities and serve alongside local villagers as you work together toward a common goal. Visit rusticpathways.com/programs for more information.

Volunteer Locally Think about the causes you believe in and how you can help 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. Visit rusticpathways.com/alumni for more information.

Become a Development Ambassador Fundraise for the Rustic Pathways Foundation by collecting donations for the project you’re most passionate about. Choose from one of 12 ongoing project funds and create a personalized fundraising page to continue supporting one of our community partners. Visit rusticpathways.org/dev-ambassador to apply and join an amazing group of people, get access to exclusive Foundation gear, and support important projects around the world.

Follow Our Impact We believe our rigorous approach advances the measurement of student impact and contributes new understandings 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 rusticpathways.com/student-impact-evaluation. 31

rustic@rusticpathways.com rusticpathways.com

Rustic Pathways


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