DRESDEN (November 29) — Area high school and college students now have a new opportunity for global travel, thanks to a new, local non-profit organization, Global Citizen Adventure Corps (GCAC).
The Dresden, Tennessee-based organization is a newly formed 501(c)3 non-profit organization with a mission to provide affordable travel opportunities for students. Students at local high schools can participate.
Global Citizen Adventure Corps (GCAC) gained its nonprofit recognition in November and within days had its first pledge of a $50,000 match of funds raised by the close of 2022.
Dresden resident Stacie Freeman is the co-founder of GCAC, an organization formed to assist primarily West Tennessee high school and college students with the financial means to participate in international service-learning programs. Since 2011, as part of her work as director of Bethel University’s Global Studies Program, she has led 438 travelers to 8 countries, volunteering over 30,000 hours, and nearing an economic impact of $900,000 in host communities. She and GCAC co-founder Julie Hill of Union City have positioned the new 501c(3) entity to raise and receive tax-deductible gifts to offset travel expenses for financially-strapped students to locales such as Costa Rica, Guatemala, Colombia, Ecuador, and Thailand.
“The mission of Global Citizen Adventure Corps is to cultivate global citizens and leaders and we start at home,” explained Freeman. “To build compassionate leaders and thinkers we begin with introducing current high school and college students to needs they can address through community service where they live, offer a five-week college credit course, and then take them to see and address needs in another area of the world.”
Freeman said that impetus for GCAC came after Dresden experienced the December 2021 tornado and many of the students planning to participate in the 2022 Bethel Global Studies spring trip were adversely affected, some losing their homes.
“Initially, I thought I would have to cancel the trip to Costa Rica,” she said. “But by that time, the students had already lost so much due to the pandemic, I couldn’t imagine taking another thing from them. So, I began to fund raise – something I’d never done before – and asked family and friends to meet the needs. They did!”
After the success of the spring trip, Freeman and Hill began to dream of expanding travel opportunities and including even more students from across West Tennessee.
“While I have always tried to make trips economical, some students simply didn’t have the money. The economics of the geographic area meant expansing the program would not be possible without more fundraising, lots of fundraising. And to do that, we needed a lot more help,” Freeman added.
Soon a 20-member board of directors and advisors from across the state and nation became a working board producing scholarship guidelines, financial infrastructures, and fund-raising timelines.
The board also included the fledgling organization’s first major donor.
Martha Edinger, a Rives, Tenn. native, and her husband, Sandy made the challenge pledge of $50,000 during a Giving Tuesday broadcast explaining the GCAC to possible donors.
“As a family lawyer for many years, I saw what never having enough could do to a child,” Martha shared. “I also know what seeing the world and other cultures has added to my own perspective. My hope is that GCAC can offer hope to students who are at a crossroads, deciding who and what they want to do with their lives. Can one trip make a difference? I think it can.”
The Edingers set a December 31 deadline for the dolllar-for-dollar matching contribution. A Donate link at www.globalcitizenadventurecorps.org was established prior to the November 29 Giving Tuesday launch to accept contributions. The link can be found at the top right of the web page.
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