Posted: Dec 23, 2013 7:00 AM
These kids turned their passion into tuition and paid their way to international travel with People to People Ambassador Programs. Meet inspiring kids who earned international trips and find out what we all want to know: what fundraising ideas they used and what fundraising tips they have to share!

Seven continents, 40 countries, 500,000 alumni. Changing students' worlds through educational travel for the last 50 years. That's what People to People Student Travel is about.

With trip names such as Mediterranean Holiday, Australian Adventure and Exploring Europe, it's not hard to garner interest in the programs. Students in grades 5-12 and in college are invited to apply to the programs and are then interviewed, recommended and chosen to not only participate in a travel adventure of a lifetime, but to also learn about different cultures, bridging the gap between the unknown and the known.

Often, this global perspective creates interest in new career paths or identifies new subjects for study in school. Importantly, by representing their family and their country to others, Student Ambassadors recognize the power an individual has to effect positive change. With more than 20,000 Ambassadors traveling annually, People to People Ambassador Programs plays a significant role in increasing global awareness.

More often than not, the only stumbling block to this life-changing experience is financial. Most Student Ambassador two to three week programs range from about $4,000 to $8,000. The tuition is all-inclusive and covers pre-program education and preparation, program activities, accommodations, transportation, supervision, program apparel, academic credit, three meals per day and group insurance. Still, the price tag is high, but, as it turns out, isn't insurmountable.

I would be willing to bet money that the kids who learn early to work hard to raise their own money to fulfill a dream of theirs will be more successful in life than the average person.

A majority of delegates earn a portion of their tuition themselves, and some raise 100 percent of the cost year after year. Having students earn their way abroad is a hugely important financial and parenting decision. Frugality expert and blogger Jordan Page says, "I would be willing to bet money that the kids who learn early to work hard to raise their own money to fulfill a dream of theirs will be more successful in life than the average person. One of the best things we can do as parents is encourage our children to become little entrepreneurs and learn money matters at an early age, and that it takes hard work to be able to fully enjoy life."

But what we really want to know is how do they do it? So we asked. Below are Student Ambassadors telling their own stories behind their fundraising whys, hows and, of course, how much.

Cailey Beth Frasier

Fundraising: Cailey Beth Frasier"When it was my first year traveling with People to People, I had to raise the money for myself. Along with family and friends we put together a dinner, dance and auction in the same night. We sold tickets to individuals for $15 per single or $20 per couple; this got them inside and paid for their food. All the auction items were donated for the event. We also had a dessert auction along with the live auction. When the night was over, I had raised about $20,000. This paid for my first trip with P2P to France, Italy and Spain and my second trip the following summer to Ireland, Scotland, England and Wales. The People to People program has truly changed my life. I'm now a strong, independent woman."

Fundraising tip^Go big, or stay home. One large, well-thought-out event can make a ridiculously huge difference!

Jeff Loy

Fundraising: Jeff Loy"I first wanted to be a part of People to People back in fifth grade because, honestly, it looked really cool. However, I quickly learned that it's so much more. By far, my most successful fundraiser was my line of homemade beef jerky. I researched recipes and cuts of meat then put it into practice. I sold my product at car dealerships and repair shops and our family dry cleaner and my mom's hairdresser agreed to sell it at their stores. Currently, I have a small website that I use to raise funds as well. Every year I raised at least $3,500, which is, on average, half of the tuition."

Fundraising tip^Create something fabulous, and market it in a variety of ways. Also, keep your fundraising efforts live via practically self-sustaining resources such a website!

Fundraising: Dylan Bowman

Dylan Bowman

I also had one person hire me every week from September until my trip. She would call me her 'two-hour son,' because I was there two hours a week. I think over the course of time, she paid me almost $700 and we're now really good friends.

"I traveled with P2P this summer on the Celtic Heritage trip. My mom and I fundraised almost all of my trip because she is a single parent on a tight budget. We raised almost $5,000 in eight months with nine or 10 different fundraisers from September to May. We started out the fall season with Goblin Insurance and then went into the holiday season with handwritten letters from Santa, candy cane sales and custom handmade jewelry. Around February, we started making and selling homemade heart-shaped Valentine's Day suckers. We had a couple of raffles for $100 gas gift cards and donated Avon products. We sold chocolate bars and went half with another candidate on a large rummage sale — in which we both profited $550. But I think my most favorite fundraiser was my promotion for '13-Year-Old for Hire.' We hung up signs in the local banks and people called me to work. We had several elderly people in our town call to hire me to do various odd jobs such as leaf raking and weed pulling. I think I made a total of $900 doing work for people. I also had one person hire me every week from September until my trip. She would call me her "two-hour son," because I was there two hours a week. I think over the course of time, she paid me almost $700 and we're now really good friends."

Fundraising tip^Put yourself out there and remember that you're your own best asset. A little hard work goes — literally — a long way!

Bob Walters

Fundraising: Bob Walters"I was a student ambassador to Western Canada in 2013. I knew the only way I could go on this trip was to earn the money through fundraising. We did this in many ways. We raffled off a Kindle Fire HD that we won at my elementary school's Ice Cream Social. We sold tickets one for $5 or three for $10 from November into May and had the drawing at a school function. We raised over $1,500 this way. We sold homemade 'Chocolate Peanut Clusters.' We took orders at six schools in districts near us, our church, a local women's chorus group and at our dance studio. We made over $800 selling candy this way from Thanksgiving through Easter. We set up a special account at our local bank and if anyone came in and mentioned they wanted to donate to Robert Walters and included our street name they could deposit into his account. There was a $50 anonymous donation and we never found out who it was from. I entered four different essay contests and won $450 from the Ohio Association of Gifted Children. We arranged for a Bob Evans restaurant to host a fundraiser day. They offered a donation of 15 percent of the entire bill of anyone who turned in a flyer we provided or that they saw in an article about the trip that ran in the local paper.

It was a lot of work to raise the money for this trip, but it made me really appreciate each and every experience I had while I was there.

The final donation was $236 which they said was one of the best benefits they have hosted. We also participated in a hallway garage sale at our local mall. We sold some household items, homemade candy and raffle tickets for the Kindle Fire HD. One gentleman gave my mom $20 and said "put this toward your son's trip." He just walked away and we never got his name. We made around $150 that day. Around this time we had reached over halfway on our goal so we came up with a sponsorship letter to take around to local businesses and organizations. We addressed each letter to the individual business and took the letter in and asked to speak to the owner or manager. My mom and I spent three afternoons "pounding the pavement." One afternoon we went to 36 businesses in five hours. We found that smaller businesses were more receptive than those that have to answer to a corporate office. We promised the businesses that if they donated any amount we would acknowledge them at an open house we would host within a few months after the trip. We had this event on Sunday, Oct. 27, at a local church where I shared photos, videos and souvenirs from my trip. This fundraising raised more than $700. It was a lot of work to raise the money for this trip, but it made me really appreciate each and every experience I had while I was there."

Fundraising tip^Anything can be achieved one step at a time. Also, reach out to your community. People are good and want to support you!

The bottom (dollar) line

These inspiring kids are so symbolic of the dream chasing and life changing that comes with traveling. People to People supports their little entrepreneurs and realizes that the effects of these projects are even more far reaching than the cost of airfare. Sherra Eutsler, Tuition Support Coordinator for People to People Ambassador Programs, says, "People to People students that fund their tuition do so because that have a thirst for knowledge and a passion to succeed. About 50 percent to 60 percent of our student travelers raise their tuition by doing various funding activities. They do everything from babysitting to putting on live auctions and everything in between. These students gain a sense of accomplishment and connection to their communities. They build budgeting and communication skills by planning out events and activities. Most of all, People to People students that raise their own tuition come to appreciate the experiences they gain while on the program due to the hard work that they did to get there."

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