The Regenerative Travel Impact Awards 2021 — Education

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The Regenerative Travel Impact Awards celebrate people and projects that embody the spirit of regeneration—improving people’s lives, our communities, and the world around us. We are searching the globe for inspiring changemakers working to solve our biggest challenges and inspiring positive action, both inside and outside of travel.

View the finalists for the Education category, featuring projects that deepen or broaden education’s impact, promoting equity and understanding.

1. Africa Foundation: Hustle Economy Micro-Enterprise Support Programme

Africa Foundation was founded in 1992 to uplift, up-skill, and empower rural communities living close to the core conservation areas where its partner, conservation-led luxury travel company AndBeyond, has a presence. Active in 73 communities across South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique, Botswana, and Namibia, the underlying Africa Foundation theory-of-change is that by empowering communities to develop in ways that secure sustainable livelihoods, it can enable the conservation of Africa’s spectacular natural environments and wildlife.

South Africa has a population of 59.6 million, 30.8% of whom are unemployed. About one-third of South Africa’s population is between 18 and 34 years old and are the hardest hit by unemployment. Being unemployed for extended periods at this age can lead to becoming unemployable; to this end, Africa Foundation finds ways in which the youth and other marginalised members of society can actively participate in work and income generation.

In rural communities and townships, where formal sector work opportunities are limited, the informal economy plays a key role in providing income for a significant number of vulnerable people. In South Africa, Africa Foundation is active in 28 rural communities in Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal, where unemployment is a significant challenge. In response, Africa Foundation has developed the Hustle Economy Micro-Enterprise Support Programme.

The objective is a long-term intervention that will serve and support emerging Hustle Economy micro-entrepreneurs (hustle-preneurs). The Hustle Economy Programme is led by Africa Foundation Programme Manager Nonhlanhla Ambrose and anchored by a network of community-based facilitators, recruited on the basis of their Hustle Economy experience and facilitation ability.

The activities of the participating hustle-preneurs are tracked, and they are given “credits” for the workshops they participate in and the hours spent volunteering in their communities. These credits are converted to funding support for their entrepreneurial activities, in the form of capital and accredited training grant support.

The Programme is currently being piloted in the communities of Nibela, Makhasa, and Mnqobokazi, with the intention of taking it to another five communities starting July 2021. In South Africa’s rural communities, statistically, each person making an income supports eight family members, thus making the impact of this project that much more significant.

2. Rockhouse Jamaica Foundation

The Rockhouse Hotel Jamaica, led by Founder, Chairman & CEO Paul Salmon, is an award-winning boutique hotel perched over Pristine Cove on Negril’s west end. While prioritizing guests and developing an all-Jamaican team, the Rockhouse undertakes environmental best practices (certified for over 20 years) while putting back into the community through the Rockhouse Foundation.

In 2004 the Rockhouse Hotel team established the Rockhouse Foundation, a US charity, and to date has invested over US $6 million building, expanding, and renovating seven Negril area public schools and the Negril Community Library. All administrative and fundraising costs of the foundation are underwritten by Rockhouse and Skylark Hotels and their owners, so all donations go directly to the projects. Guests are actively engaged in the foundation’s work through volunteer opportunities, scheduled weekly school visits sponsored by the hotel, an awareness campaign, and communication in guest rooms. The vast majority of funding for the foundation comes from the support of regular guests.

Over the past four years the foundation’s major focus has been building the Sav Inclusive School, inspired by a conversation with a Rockhouse team member who, as the mother of an autistic son, was confronting challenges with a lack of services in Western Jamaica and the stigma attached to disabilities. Working with the Ministry of Education, in 2017 the Sav Inclusive School was established, becoming Jamaica’s first public institution serving typical learning children and those with special needs in a full inclusion setting.

In response to the COVID pandemic and the closure of schools, the Rockhouse pivoted its program to provide weekly distributions of food staples to the most vulnerable families at the partner schools. Many families rely on the school breakfast and lunch programs as a primary source of nutrition. The COVID Relief Food Distribution Program has delivered over 100 tons of food, helping sustain over 1000 people throughout the pandemic.

The objective of Rockhouse is to create a regenerative balance between all interested parties by constantly reinvesting in the guest experience, the team, the environment, and the community.

3. Share The Wonder

Founded in December 2020, Share The Wonder‘s mission is to organise fun and educational day trips for underprivileged children in Asia. The initiative is built on the belief that every child should have the opportunity to experience the eye-opening and inspiring wonders of travel, no matter where they come from or their background.

‘Share The Wonder’ is actively making the world a better place by creating fun and educational travel opportunities for young people who don’t normally get to experience outside-of-the-classroom learning activities by working closely with children’s NGOs in each of the destinations it operates in. This close communication helps the foundation formulate a day trip itinerary to have the greatest possible impact on children the NGO supports. These trips not only provide participants with a fun day out, but also deliver learning experiences that contribute to the education already provided to them by the NGO.

Share The Wonder tries to maximize the positive impact of trips further by including visits to social businesses in its trip itineraries to ensure that part of the money spent on each trip contributes to a broader social or environmental issue. Additionally, environmental education plays a role in most of its itineraries as the foundation aims to let children come away from the day with a renewed appreciation for the beautiful natural world around them, and practical tips on what they can do to contribute to its conservation. Its partner social businesses also help create interactive, hands-on learning experiences.

The experiences Share The Wonder organises for the children that take part in its trips are intended to be “regenerative” in nature. This it does by incorporating fun and inspiring activities and personalities in itineraries, which not only give beneficiaries a temporary escape from their challenging daily lives, but also encourage them to think positively about their future. Share The Wonder is all about inspiring hope among children who come from disadvantaged and underprivileged backgrounds.

4. Love The Oceans

Love The Oceans (LTO) is a marine conservation NGO working in Jangamo, Mozambique, that uses a holistic approach to conservation, applying a bottom-up, community-led method to establish a locally managed marine protected area (LMMA) designed to be replicated along the coast of Mozambique and other similar developing countries. LTO’s vision is self-sustainability for the community through LMMAs, making a successful conservation outcome independent of its presence in the area. 

LTO’s education initiatives invest in the next generation, building a local team with the knowledge and skillsets to ensure successful conservation. The organization teaches basic marine management and swimming. Once children reach advanced swim, they’re offered the opportunity to become an Ocean Conservation Champion, where LTO sponsors 2 children yearly to complete high school and provides numerous children the opportunity to do further qualifications – largely ecotourism based. The creation of an LMMA will result in further job creation in the marine ecotourism space. LTO sponsors English lessons, swimming instructor and diving qualifications, surfing, etc., and its scholars in turn become conservation ambassadors in the community. Its work in the schools has enabled access to free education for more than 1500 children and the establishment of the first local high school. The foundation is also building the first community swimming pool, enabling access for more people, encouraging safe interaction with the ocean, and fostering a passion for marine life and its protection.

In 2020 LTO launched its Sustainable Fishing Project, spearheaded by the local chief fisherman and LTO’s Community Outreach Manager. This project incorporates the foundation’s coral and fisheries research and is transitioning people away from unsustainable net fishing towards sustainable kayak line fishing, with the potential to scale up along the coastline of Mozambique. On completion the project will protect over 3000 hectares of ocean from net use. LTO is also launching alternative livelihood initiatives including sustainable honey harvesting, aquaculture, agriculture, and aquaponics.

To fund the majority of this work, LTO runs expeditions, with people coming from across the globe to learn and participate in its work. The organization works with schools, universities, and travel agents and has welcomed people aged 16 to 67 from over 20 countries. Recognizing that this kind of trip can cause a privilege bottleneck, LTO has recently partnered with Minorities In Shark Science to offer scholarships for 2 students annually from 2022 onwards, with plans to expand the program.

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