“By encouraging me to share my story with others who have overcome adversity, OTW has helped me turn my past into a source of empowerment, instead of a source of shame.”
-B.N., U.S. OTW participant, Costa Rican OTW alumni trip leader
“Opening The World has helped me in creating a great friendship with life; both giving and receiving.”
-A.Z., U.S. OTW participant, Costa Rican OTW alumni trip leader
“Opening the World has opened my eyes to traveling and being more humble and grateful in life with those around me and distant from me. We complain about little things when there are people/children in other countries who don't even have shoes on their feet.”
- A.M., Costa Rican OTW participant
AN EDUCATIONAL, LEADERSHIP, COMMUNITY SERVICE
& TRAVEL PROGRAM FOR YOUNG ADULTS
OTW Participant Statistics
OTW serves underprivileged, transitional age youth (ages 16 to 25) from culturally diverse backgrounds who have struggled with one or more of the following issues: trauma, neglect, physical abuse, familial conflict/rupture, loss, substance abuse, homelessness, the foster care and probation systems, educational challenges, and poverty.
Opening the World (OTW) is a Marin County, California-based program designed to empower and expose youth at risk to a world beyond their own through volunteer, leadership, educational and cultural experiences within their communities and abroad.
83% grew up at or below the poverty line.
78% lived in single-parent households.
58% required Child & Family Services (CFS) interventions.
65% attended alternative education programs or obtained their GED.
75% struggled with substance abuse.
70% were in either the Marin County juvenile and/or adult probations systems.
100% experienced mental health issues including significant trauma, anxiety, depression and suicidal ideation.
After a year in this program, OTW participants often continue on as alumni who take on leadership roles, mentor new participants, identify and pursue vocational opportunities, and occasionally travel with OTW, either as a trip leader or by paying their travel expenses in full. These alumni return because they have found a sense of community. They return because they are now socially conscious individuals who want to give back after receiving so much.
"Compassion, gratitude, motivation, hope, resilience, love, the sky is the limit. OTW has inspired all of that in me. It has taught me the life skills to strive from nothing. It has supported me in every way. It has given me a longed for family from different backgrounds, but all with the same goal: to change the world for the better. That's what OTW is all about."
-D.V., U.S. OTW participant
"What I get from OTW is not money or material things, but a feeling of satisfaction when I contribute my time to help people here in the USA and abroad."
-D.D., Costa Rican OTW participant