The Foundation for Leadership and Youth Travel Education (FLYTE) is a nonprofit providing funding, teacher support, and itinerary and trip planning for high school programs in underserved communities to help students expand their cultural, academic, and social horizons. We fund classroom trips to help bring real world context to what students learn in school.FLYTE was founded in 2015 by the New York Times Bestselling travel author, Matthew Kepnes. His website, Nomadic Matt, is one of the most popular website for budget travelers. Growing up in Boston, Matt didn’t take his first trip overseas until he was 23. That trip changed the course of his entire life. He returned from his trip, quit his job, and in July of 2006, set out on an adventure around the world. He’s been traveling ever since, and has dedicated his efforts to helping people realize their travel dreams and make them a reality. Realizing that so many students never get to experience the transformative experience of travel, he founded FLYTE.
At FLYTE we believe global education is a crucial catalyst for developing young leaders to become agents of change in their communities. We hope to create a foundation; one that inspires students to seek new experiences, encourages them to engage as global citizens, and instills in them the idea that the world is so much bigger than the community from which you come.
Matthew Kepnes, otherwise known as Nomadic Matt, is an American budget travel expert. An intrepid globetrotter, blogger, and the New York Times Bestselling author of How to Travel the World on $50 a Day: Travel Cheaper, Longer, Smarter, Nomadic Matt and his money-saving travel secrets have been featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, CNN, Time, BBC, The Huffington Post, The Guardian, Lifehacker, Buzzfeed, National Geographic, and more. After a trip to Thailand in 2005, he decided to leave the rat race and explore the world. So he finished graduate school, quit his cubicle job, and, in July 2006, he set out on an adventure around the world. Matt’s original trip was supposed to last a year. He didn’t return until 18 months later. Once back, he knew he couldn’t go back to his old life or a typical job—Matt wanted to travel. Three months later, he was on the road again and hasn’t stopped since.
Knowing how impactful travel can be, he was inspired to help create this organization. Never having gotten to travel in his youth, he wanted to use his resources to help others see the world.
Courtney joins FLYTE as a dedicated youth education advocate, with years of experience working within the higher education and non-profit sectors, all while pursuing various adventures around the globe. She has a double major in political science and international studies from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. While at UW-Stevens Point, she fell in love with travel and spent a year studying abroad in the beautiful cities of Krakow, Poland, and in Szeged, Hungary.
Courtney pursued her study abroad passion by working with the International Academic Programs department and Division of International Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She acted as the financial and budgetary manager for study abroad programs throughout the world, and worked extensively with students to secure financial aid and scholarships to make international education a possibility for hundreds of college students. Following her experience at UW-Madison Courtney worked with iMentor, a New York based mentoring organization, as the Manager of Strategic for Initiatives. She also served on the Youth, Education, and Human Services Committee for Brooklyn’s Community Board 6, and worked with various Brooklyn schools to promote access to computer coding and technology programs.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Carmela has spent much of her professional career working within the education, child welfare and youth development sectors. She currently manages policy and oversees strategic initiatives at the NYC Department of Education.
She is also an avid traveler and did a round the world trip in 2012. It was on that journey that she felt a strong sense of gratitude for the life circumstances that had enabled her to take such a trip, and an overwhelming desire to help bring this opportunity to underprivileged youth. Serving as a member of the BOD for FLYTE has been an actualization of that dream.
Erica is a New York City native with a deep love for language, culture, and travel. Her passion spills over into her classroom and sets the stage for a class full of fun and learning. She now speaks Spanish at a Native-like Fluency level and has gone on to also learn French and Portuguese fluently. Her love for languages and culture has taken her to over 33 countries on 6 Continents. Erica has been awarded many honors in her teaching career, including BEST Academy High School Teacher 2012-2013, Fox High Five Teacher 2014, and has been featured in Thanks for Teachers in Atlanta BEST Self magazine. As a proud Board Member of FLYTE she is always happy to contribute to this noble cause and change the lives of many through travel.
Mari Ramirez CPA started her own paperless CPA firm in May 2011. In the 11 years that she has been in public accounting, Mari has continued to help owners and organizations to achieve their dreams and goals.
She has worked with various industries ranging from small to medium businesses and organizations such as retail, restaurants, startups, non-profits, and service firms. She is an active member with the Texas Society of Certified Public Accountants and the QuickBooks ® Professional and Point of Sale Advisors Program. She volunteers actively with the many non-profits she serves in Austin, and is currently the President of the Georgetown Art Center. She is also on the advisory board of Cedar Ridge High School.