When our development team was first discussing My World and what the vision would be for this enterprise, most of what we talked about centered around how to help local churches and non-profits in Kansas City. It's a need for sure and we have a pretty broad network of possible sites that could use some help doing all sorts of noble, community building tasks.
But as it's evolved, it's taken on a different kind of identity. I've personally worked with a couple gap-year programs and done research on dozens more. The reality is: gap year programs tend to take more affluent, white, academic or career driven students on either secular adventure trips or evangelical mission trips. I don't mean that in any critical way, it just seems to be the nature and economics of the industry.
Sally, Matt, Greg and I started asking questions like: in a perfect world, what would this program be? Where's the need? What's missing?
I don't know if it's possible, but the more I dream about My World and what it could become, the more fixated I am on the idea that it could be: diverse (ethnically, socioeconomically, denominationally), humanitarian, educational, social-justice focused, spiritually grounded, inclusive (LGBTQ population for sure), and adventurous to boot. This vision is going to be really challenging to pull off (if it were easy, someone would have done it by now, and for those who might have found a way to do this already: bravo to you!)
It's going to take money. I don't mean fundraising, we're already doing that. I mean: it's going to have to be affordable. One of my passions is marrying business and missions together (check out one of my past enterprises: https://www.famousraysburgers.com/ - a restaurant employing Burmese refugees in Thailand). I want to try and create income sources within the program to help defray the cost of tuition. We want college credit to be a big portion of this experience, a jump-start into the next season of life. We want life skills and community living to be emphasized. And we want a real, not-filtered, non-censored exposure to the realities of the world, and to meet people and hear stories of how these realities are being addressed in creative, successful, and inspirational ways.
Imagine a world where the next generation betters this place, where they know where they belong and the move toward something different with conviction. That's a mission worth fighting for.
If you know of anyone who'd be interested in our pilot group starting later this year, send them to firstname.lastname@example.org for more info!