Travel is one of the most insightful, life-changing, and memorable experiences students can have, the entire process allowing these young travelers to grow and develop in a way that classroom knowledge alone cannot.
Sadly, oftentimes in the youth travel industry tour operators come across student groups that have an extreme desire to travel but that cannot afford it, be it due to a school budget cut, hardship at home, or simply no access to the proper tools to move forward.
Aside from fundraising (see our tips here), there are a few other options to ensure your students can get the travel experience they deserve, such as the various SYTA Youth Foundation scholarship opportunities.
The SYTA Youth Foundation, or SYF, is the philanthropic sister organization to SYTA, the Student and Youth Travel Association. Together, these two programs work together to 'impact the lives of culturally, linguistically, or economically at-risk student and youth through travel experience'. With a large network of tour operators (like us!), attraction connections, and educator resources, SYTA and SYF have one of the most reliable and comprehensive student travel conglomerates in the U.S.
Adventure Student Travel works closely with SYTA to ensure our students are getting the best travel opportunities available, especially when it comes to budget and safety tips.
Our biggest tips for groups needing funding help? SYF scholarships.
There are 4 different scholarship opportunities through SYF; Silver Lining, Road Scholarship, Ripley Hunter, and Next Generation. Each option is meant to positively impact a student or group of students by allowing them to grow and develop through the experience of travel. The over 3,500 students impacted by SYF since it's inception in 2000 will all tell you the same thing; travel isn't about souvenirs and snapshots, it's about cultural insight and real-world opportunities you haven't had before.
There has been over 1,000,000 awarded to various youth travelers since 2000, making SYF a truly invaluable and popular student travel funding resource.
Here are the four different scholarship opportunities available:
Silver Lining -
Through the Silver Lining program students who show commendable excellence in their daily action, travel and education intention, or personal circumstance have the opportunity to travel to a new major city. This opportunity has impacted over 500 students so far, with just about 35 chosen annually from the SYTA conference host city. Check out the 2017 student group who participated in the Silver Lining program below!
Summer is a popular time for many students to travel with their classmates and friends, but not all students are that fortunate. This year, thanks to the SYTA Youth Foundation (SYF), its partners and members, and the American Experience Foundation (AEF), 30 eighth and ninth grade students from the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Tar River Region of North Carolina were selected to experience the gift of travel. - SYF
Next Generation -
The Next Generation scholarship opportunity provides youth unable to visit on their own the chance to learn with staff and educators at SeaWorld. The students chosen will take part in a 3-day resident camp program in which they will help tend to the animals with the park caregivers, the experience giving them invaluable insight into animal behavior, health, and interactions. Conservation and biology are huge topics discussed within the program.
Ripley Hunter -
This is a big one, the Ripley Hunter scholarship offering students the opportunity to write an essay describing the impact that a travel experience has had on them, the prize a $1,000 scholarship!
A $1,000.00 U.S. scholarship and a commemorative plaque will be awarded to the author of the winning essay. The winner will be invited to read the article via phone link during the SYTA Youth Foundation Luncheon at the SYTA Annual Conference.
A panel will judge the entries based on the criteria of legibility, sincerity, creativity, and content.
How to Enter
Any student who is currently enrolled in a secondary public or private academic institution (grades 9-12) may submit an entry through the online form below. Article length should not exceed 525 words. You can not begin an online application, save changes, and return later to complete it. Changes will not be saved to an application. Once submitted, an application cannot be changed. If you need to make changes to your submitted application you will need to notify SYF staff.
No purchase or payment of any kind is necessary to enter or win this contest. Only one entry is allowed per person.
Multiple entries will not be accepted and could result in disqualification. Employees of SYTA, AMG, Inc., SYTA member companies, immediate family members, business partners, contest sponsors and contest judges are not eligible and may not participate in this contest as an entrant. Entries must be received by the deadline. Income and other taxes, if any, are the sole responsibility of the contest winners. This contest is subject to all federal, state, and local laws. Void where restricted or prohibited. All entries become the property of SYF and will not be acknowledged or returned. SYF reserves all publication rights thereof. Acceptance of prize constitutes consent to use winners’ names for editorial or publicity purposes without further compensation, except where restricted or prohibited. The winner may be required to sign an affidavit of eligibility and liability release, which must be returned within 21 days or an alternate winner, may be chosen.
The 2017 application period was open January 30 - June 2, 2017. The winner will be announced the week of July 10th. The 2018 application period will open February 1 - June 1, 2018.
Road Scholarship -
The Road Scholarship is dedicated to students (individual student or groups of 5 students or more) who are simply unable to afford the cost of their group trip. Students must be nominated to be considered for this straightforward scholarship, SYF hoping to make a positive difference in young lives through travel with this opportunity.
Application Periods: Announcement Dates:
February 1, 2018 - March 16, 2018 The week of April 16, 2018
October 1, 2018 - November 16, 2018 The week of December 10, 2018
February 4, 2019 - March 15, 2019 The week of April 15, 2019
Who can apply for a Road Scholarship?
All Road Scholarship nominations must be submitted by an educator, program leader, or designated school official or program leader for students under the age of 18 and in grades K-12. Please note that the SYTA Youth Foundation (SYF) will not consider nominations submitted by parents and/or guardians.
How do I nominate someone for a Road Scholarship?
The educator, designated school official or program leader MUST sign up and create a profile, in order to view and submit a Road Scholarship nomination. Click HERE to create a profile. *Please note that the Road Scholarship application will only be available during the application period dates.
-More info from SYF.