July eNewsletter

July eNewsletter: Road Scholarship & Class of 2020 Scholarship

In the July issue of the SYTA Youth Foundation eNewsletter, you will find information about the Road Scholarship, Class of 2020 Scholarship and more.

Included in this issue:

  • Chairperson’s Letter
  • Road Scholarship Dates Announced
  • New Benefactor Donor
  • Class of 2020 Scholarship
  • Youth First Award Deadline
  • Spirit of Travel and Run/Walk/Slumber

Chairperson's Letter

Dear Tour Professional,

It’s been a challenging, but rewarding year as Chair of the SYTA Youth Foundation. It’s one I will never forget as I was quickly humbled by a pandemic, but ultimately lifted by a community that refuses to quit in the face of opposition.

I set out last August with one goal in mind: to secure the foundation’s leadership role, for years to come, in supporting travel for students who face financial barriers. We were all riding high from a knockout conference and celebrating our greatest achievement to date: reaching our goal of raising $1 million in the SYF Endowment Fund. We were focused so long on meeting this fiscal milestone, I was concerned about finding ways to keep our community engaged, excited and motivated.

The next logical step was to create a post-endowment vision and goal.

To achieve this, the Board of Trustees had three things to do:

  • Listen to input from our stakeholders.
  • Focus on our mission.
  • Develop a plan to move forward.

For this, we had the support of an experienced professional contractor, who led us through an incredible journey in strategic planning.

We listened to tour operators, vendors, SYTA staff, board leaders and other stakeholders from our community. We shared our own thoughts on the factors we felt were currently driving or influencing the foundation, outlined what we hoped to see in place in three years as a result of our actions, and examined what we believed was blocking us from moving toward our vision.

Next, we identified strategic directions that would allow us to deal effectively with our underlying contradictions and realize a practical vision. We needed a well-defined strategy that would improve our fundraising and brand awareness, and move us from a reactive approach to a more focused, proactive decision-making protocol.

The result is a three-year plan and three working groups who immediately began work on our strategic directions:

  1. Launch a well-resourced development plan that positions us to expand our reach.
  2. Enhance Board of Trustees efficiency and continuity to carry out the mission.
  3. Achieve board clarity on mission and focus to optimize our leadership position.

When we began this work, we had no idea what world-changing events were just around the corner and how they would challenge our resolve.

Our first test of the plan came in March, when schools began to close and student travel simply ended. Our members faced their greatest challenges when teachers and parents had no option but to cancel student trips. Once we recovered from the shock of these events, we conducted a review of our strategic priorities to map a way forward. The plan proved relevant and served its purpose to keep us focused on our mission: to support travel experiences for students and youth who wouldn’t otherwise have the resources to participate in those life-changing and enriching opportunities.

As a result of our planning, we now have the focus, the teams and the clarity to achieve that mission in an uncertain future.

Teachers and parents around the world are facing terribly difficult decisions about returning children to school in a safe and secure manner. We understand travel for their students may be not the highest priority right now. However, the SYTA Youth Foundation will continue to raise funds and use its resources to inspire youth about the prospect of travel. We will be ready to support them through the actual travel experience when they are ready to set out again.

I want to give a special thanks to the SYF Trustees, the SYTA Board of Directors, Carylann Assante, and the entire SYTA staff for your support and encouragement this past year. I will take the friendships and lessons learned from each and every one of you forward in my personal journey. I am most definitely a better person for serving with you all.

With your continued support and the leadership of our new and dynamic Chair, Robin Parker, I am confident the foundation will continue to level the playing field for all youth to ensure invaluable travel opportunities for years to come.


Barb McCormack
Chair, SYTA Youth Foundation

Road Scholarship Dates Announced

The SYF Board of Trustees voted to continue offering Road Scholarships for 2021 travel, with changes to the application and payment process. This allows for SYF to confirm—a minimum of one month prior to departure—students are traveling. Schools and tour operators should return scholarship checks for students whose trips have been canceled. Learn more.

New Donor Welcome: Travelin' Coupons

SYF is thrilled to welcome new Benefactor donor Travelin’ Coupons. The company is dedicated to providing discounts to museums, attractions and tours across the United States. In addition to its pledge, Travelin’ Coupons will give back 10% of all proceeds to SYF.

SYF Class of 2020 Scholarship

In recognition of the Class of 2020, we have created a special fund, under the SYF Road Scholarship Program, to provide travel scholarships to 2020’s high school seniors. The Class of 2020 Scholarship application period opens in fall 2020, with money being awarded for educational travel in 2021. The total amount of awards given is based on funds recently raised through the scholarship fund T-shirt sales. Review the application here.

Youth First Nomination Deadline Extended

The SYTA Youth Foundation is dedicating the 2020 Youth First Award to a COVID-19 hero. This annual award honors an individual or organization demonstrating a commitment to enriching student lives through travel or contributing to advancing our industry. Nominations close Friday, August 14th. Nominate here.

Spirit of Travel and Run/Walk/Slumber

Save the date! October 6th, 2020, is the SYTA Youth Foundation's celebration of the Spirit of Travel and Run/Walk/Slumber. SYF is celebrating 20 years of changing young lives through travel.