HISTORY & BUILDING BLOCKS
After years of leading outdoor travel programs for young adults for a variety of companies, we saw the natural connection between travel in the outdoors and the documentary arts. -- both 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 reflect on the lessons we gather to inform our own life path. We also recognized that too many young adults from low-income backgrounds simply did not have positive experiences in the outdoors, nor did they have many role models or easy access to make it part of their lives. We felt strongly that this needed to change. With all of that as our foundation, we launched Open Roads and have since run more than 20 extended summer travel programs and providing in excess of 200 full scholarships to young adults from low-income backgrounds.
In 2010, we were thrilled to create a partnership with the Creative Visions Foundation, uniting two communities that believed fully in the power of the arts and adventure to inspire us all. That partnership continues to thrive today as we draw adventure guides, filmmakers, students, and inspiration from the incredible global tribe Creative Visions has nurtured through the magnetic leadership of Kathy, Amy, and of course, Dan Eldon.
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 250 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 between 50-70% among their socio-economic peers during that same period). Far more important, they are 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 creative agency that comes from exploring the documentary arts, to instill an unshakable belief in their ability to achieve positive Life Outcomes -- often called "self-efficacy."
Open Roads has extended the impact of its work through invitations for our graduates to speak 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.
To further extend our reach, we have produced dozens of short films highlighting Open Roads and other good work around the world, 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.