HISTORY & BUILDING BLOCKS
After years of leading outdoor travel programs for young adults, we saw the connection between travel in the outdoors, personal reflection, and the creative story arts as vital resources for mental health and social awareness -- all of it requiring us to step out of our comfort zone, ask life's big questions, learn to listen to the stories around us, and then to use thise lessons to help achieve Positive Life Outcomes. We also recognized that too many young adults from lower-income communities did not have positive experiences in the outdoors, nor did they have cultural narratives to help make it part of their lives. We felt strongly that this needed to change. With all of that as our foundation, in 2001 we launched Open Roads.
Open Roads Academy now focuses on working with high-character young adults who show leadership potential, so they can return home to help others discover a healthy way of life that is more connected to the natural world, and to one another.
In most cases, we work with schools, organizations, and foundations to achieve a set of desired outcomes. Together we offer full scholarships for the participants so that we can all experience the profound benefits of group travel in nature, regardless of our financial backgrounds. To date, we have provided hundreds of full scholarships to inspiring young adults from across the country, working to make the outdoors a normal part of all our lives in a systemic, generation way ... and we are just getting started!
We further broaden our reach and encourage others to experience the positive mental and physical benefits that come from Time in Nature through an annual photography magazine, original short films, relevant research, and year-round initiatives to connect our growing community of outdoor enthusiasts.
One of the outcomes that we are most proud of is that while we serve kids from all backgrounds, we have been very fortunate to provide full scholarships to more than 350 students (and growing) who otherwise would not be able to experience a summer travel program in the outdoors. Of those students, more than 98% have graduated high school and gone on to college (compared to a rate of below 70% among their socio-economic peers during that same period). Far more important, they are all now leading full, healthy, and happy lives.
At the heart of our success has been an unwavering commitment to providing a brand of learning that is focused on helping young adults use the lessons of nature, the self-discovery offered through learning to listen to the stories of others, and the personal agency that comes from exploring the creative arts, to instill an unshakable belief in their ability to achieve Positive Life Outcomes -- often called "self-efficacy."
Open Roads graduates have even enjoyed invititations to speak about their growth experiences at venues including the Russell Senate Office Building, Deepak Chopra’s Alliance for a New Humanity, TEDx events, and many others. Our student films have been showcased on Disney’s Freeform channel, at the Seattle Art Museum, Harvard’s Graduate School of Education, Chicago Cultural Center, and more.
We have also produced dozens of short films , which included selling a -6-part short film series about Open Roads to Disney's Freeform, producing an hour-long film about the importance of early childhood education with the Saul Zaentz Foundation that was featured at SXSW EDU, and helping to produce a documentary feature film, SOUFRA, that profiled the launch of the groundbreaking all-women led food truck business inside a Lebanese refugee camp, which was sold to Hulu and numerous international territories.
VISION FOR THE FUTURE
As we look to the future, we will continue running travel adventures that inspire us all, and producing stories of the outdoors to reach as broad an audience as possible. At the same time, we have set
an audacious goal to open a fully-endowed camp and creative center
to increase the number of young adults we can welcome into the outdoors, and to provide a place for change-makers of all kinds to gather, refill our wells of inspiration, and continue doing all we can as a community to make the world a better place.