About Us

Reach the World makes the benefits of travel accessible to classrooms, inspiring students to become curious, confident global citizens. Enabled by our digital platform, K-12 classrooms and volunteer travelers explore the world together.

Reach the World provides full-service programming to school, afterschool and summer school sites in New York City, and online programming to sites nationwide. The National Geographic Society Education Foundation named RTW a Model Program in Geography Education and the HP Catalyst Initiative named RTW a world innovator in STEM+ education.


Reach the World was founded in 1998 by Heather Halstead and Marc Gustafson. The program began by serving classrooms in Harlem, NY through a partnership with the Institute for Learning Technologies at Teachers College, Columbia University. For the first ten years, RTW operated one global journey per year that hundreds of classrooms followed online.

By 2009, technology improvements allowed Reach the World to begin engaging volunteer travelers as our voices in the field. RTW now matches volunteer travelers who are studying, interning or exploring abroad with K-12 classrooms. Since 2009, 814 travelers have shared their journeys online with more than 17,000 youth in the U.S.

Read more about the case for geography education here.


Reach the World’s mission is to help elementary and secondary school students and teachers to develop the knowledge, attitudes, values and thinking skills needed for responsible citizenship in a complex, culturally diverse and rapidly changing world.  Through its interactive website, RTW enriches the curriculum by connecting classrooms to volunteer travelers who are exploring the globe.  RTW identifies and trains volunteer travelers, manages web-based content posted weekly by these travelers, and delivers training and support to the sites in its programs.  Most of RTW’s travelers are college students on study abroad programs around the world, while others are independent explorers.

Reach the World provides two levels of service. For sites located in New York City, the RTW Full Program includes traveler:classroom matching, video conferencing, on-site support from Global Learning Leaders and professional development. For sites located outside of New York City, the RTW Online Program includes traveler:classroom matching and video conferencing.

Reach the World’s website also hosts GeoGames, a set of interactive games that teach core geographic literacy. GeoGames is based on a multi-year geography research study by RTW and researchers at Teachers College, Columbia University. GeoGames won the Travelocity GENIP Award for Excellence in Geography Education, a national honor.


Reach the World partners with the Institute of International Education to engage Benjamin A. Gilman International scholars and Fulbright U.S. Student scholars in digital exchange with U.S. youth.

Reach the World partners with Teach For America to increase the pipeline of globally-competent and diverse talent entering the teaching profession; and to connect TFA classrooms to global mentors via digital exchange.  The two organizations leverage RTW’s network of diverse and talented college travelers to engage in digital exchanges with TFA corps members and their students. The two organizations also work together to increase awareness among RTW’s alums about the opportunity to teach full-time as a Teach For America corps member.

Reach the World is also building a nationwide network of campus and association partners that share our commitment to community service and digital exchange.

Reach the World is a vendor within the New York City Department of Education. In New York, RTW's partners include BELL, YMCA and Citizen Schools.


Reach the World administers global competence and geographic literacy surveys. Through participation in RTW, all students correspond with someone in another country, compared to 11 percent nationwide. All RTW teachers deliver weekly instruction about foreign cultures and environments, compared to 23 percent nationwide. RTW makes a statistically significant impact on students' college and study abroad aspirations; their ability to link academic study to global careers; and their empathy for foreign cultures and environments.

Have you traveled? Has anyone shared their travel stories with you? Has this affected your worldview? If you can answer “Yes” to any of these questions, then you understand the mission of Reach the World. RTW is capitalizing upon an existing energy in our society – travelers – and turning it into an educational resource for all children and educators.

18 Years of Virtual Exchange

Reach the World is celebrating its 18th year of engaging youth and travelers in virtual exchange! Please view a short video describing the history of RTW.


Board of Directors
Katy Huberty, Managing Director, Morgan Stanley (Board Chair)
Bob Altman, Executive Producer, Altman International Productions
Jane Atherton, Managing Director, Temasek Holdings
Melissa Biggs Bradley, CEO & Founder, Indagare Travel
Potoula Chresomales, SVP, Product Management, Skillsoft
John Delaney, Senior Vice President Global Sales, Lindblad Expeditions
Heather Halstead, Executive Director, Reach the World
Amber Keeney, Vice President, Strategic Partnerships, American Express
Vishal Saxena, Chief Technology Officer, Canoe
Nic Tat, Director, Capgemini Invent
Radha Tilton, Managing Director, Goldman Sachs

Advisory Board
Brandon Day, Operations Executive, AIG
Robert N. Downey, Senior Director, The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc.
Heidi Hayes Jacobs, President, Curriculum Designers, Inc.
Charles de Segundo, Senior Vice President, PIMCO
Natalie Myshinka, Head of Strategy, Bank Leumi USA
Stacey Paul, ‎Principal and Founder, Novel Brand Partners
Pateel Sandrik, Strategic Insights & Marketing, Colgate-Palmolive
Melis Ozdogan Tanlay, Vice President, Goldman, Sachs & Co
Clinton A. Vince, Partner, Dentons LLP
D. Grant Vingoe, Vice Chair, Ontario Securities Commission
Richard Wiese, Explorer and Host of ABC’s “Born to Explore”

Young Professionals Board
Chris Buffum, Teacher, MESA Charter High School
Mary Forman, Senior Associate, KPMG
Bhavna Hosakere, Consultant, The Hackett Group
Jessica Humenik, Energy Analyst, Ameresco/Applied Energy Group
Jackie Inglesby, Consultant, Boston Consulting Group
Sallie Jian, Director of Business Development & Corporate Operations, Saville Row Society
Carol Jun, Associate, J.P Morgan Chase
Kyle Kong, Associate, Carlyle Group
Adam Lev, Innovation & Enterprise Solutions at KPMG 
Gary Li, CEO, FortheChef.com
Christopher Marchesano, Manager, Global Security Operations at Brown Brothers Harriman
Killian Marie, Program Engineer, Dassault Falcon Jet (Chair)
Amanda Micsak, Sales, Roubini Global Economics
Gillie Nevel, Senior Director, Store Brands Strategy & Analytics, CVS Health
Juan Prajogo, Project Leader, Boston Consulting Group
Sayako Seto, Engagement Manager, Oliver Wyman
Monish Shah, Assistant Vice President, GIC Private Equity
Andrew Skor, Director, PriceWaterhouseCoopers
Tim Spencer, Associate, Boston Consulting Group
Mandy Xu, Analyst, JPMorgan Chase & Co.