SOURCE: Rustic Pathways

November 01, 2016 09:00 ET

Rustic Pathways and Thrival Academies Bring International Travel and Study to Oakland Public Schools Students

Expanded curriculum reinforces the importance of noncognitive skill sets gained from new cultural experiences

OAKLAND, CA--(Marketwired - Nov 1, 2016) - Today, Rustic Pathways, the leading provider of authentic travel, service learning and adventure programs, is announcing a partnership with Thrival Academies to bring international travel programs to public school students. The flagship program, in coordination with Oakland Unified School District (OUSD), leads the way toward a national network of academically rigorous high schools that include education abroad as part of their curriculum, with the goal of providing study abroad opportunities to 50,000 diverse, globally competent, future leaders by 2025. During this pilot year, the international travel component of the program is offered through Rustic Pathways and Thrival Academies to OUSD students participating in the pilot, but the travel is at each family's discretion and is wholly independent of OUSD.

Thrival Academy, Oakland is launching a pilot program in collaboration with MetWest High School, which is providing global studies and common-core aligned curriculum. The 14 students enrolled in the pilot program represent four high schools across OUSD: Fremont, Castlemont, McClymonds and MetWest. Through Thrival Academies and Rustic Pathways, these students will have the opportunity to study abroad in Thailand for three months, while fulfilling an independent studies program to earn their 11th grade credits. The program seeks to expand to 100 students at full capacity in the 2017-2018 school year.

The Thrival Academy program with Rustic Pathways offers students an important opportunity to gain critical non-cognitive skillsets like, empathy, grit, confidence, creative thinking, problem solving, and self-awareness.

"In an expanding, cross-continental economy, students need to be able to think creatively, critically and globally in order to shape the workplace of the future. At Rustic Pathways, we know that international travel experiences help students develop those necessary skillsets," said Chris Stakich, CEO of Rustic Pathways. "Unfortunately, until now, the reality has been that only upper-income students have had access to international study. Through this partnership, we are able to send students to Thailand to engage in a rigorous academic program with the added benefit of deep cultural immersion, for the same cost of sending them to school in Oakland. For this reason, we are thrilled to partner with Thrival Academies to launch our flagship program, and to bring new learning opportunities to students regardless of their socioeconomic status."

The study abroad experience has been shown to have a significant impact on cognitive and non-cognitive measures of student success. The impact of study abroad is especially profound for low-income and minority students, who are often unable to access this transformative opportunity, lacking sufficient information and funding. According to national studies, students participating in study abroad demonstrate steep increases in self-reliance, intercultural competency, appreciation of diversity, appreciation of their own community, leadership skills, and 'comfort with dissonance,' the ability to readily adapt to new and complex environments and work in ambiguous and difficult settings.[1]

"As an educator, I have seen the evolution of students both with and without the chance to experience global education," says Emma Hiza, Executive Director of Thrival Academies. "A personalized and culturally immersive education abroad is the most fundamental mechanism for community-driven social change. The Thrival Academy program in Oakland is one giant step toward making that accessible to all students, regardless of background, pushing the boundaries and embracing a deep change in our education system."

About Rustic Pathways
Education. Travel. Philanthropy. Believing in the transformative power of travel for the past 30 years, Rustic Pathways has grown to offer students more than 100 programs across 21 countries, including Spring Break, Gap year, College, and Critical Issues initiatives. These programs give students the opportunity to travel and give back to the local community during their personal time. As a result, in 2015, Rustic Pathways impacted 41,973 lives around the world. For more information, visit www.rusticpathways.com

Thrival World Academies
Thrival World Academies is a network of study abroad public high schools providing students from underserved communities access to personalized and culturally immersive education abroad. For more information, visit: http://www.thrivalacademies.org

[1] Dawkins, M.P. (1983). Black students' occupational expectations: a national study of the impact of school desegregation. Urban Education, 19 (1), 93-113.

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