March 23, 2020
Dear Road Scholar Friends,
How are you? That is the most important question right now.
I am thinking of you and of all our Road Scholar alumni — especially those of you who are living alone — during these trying times. I hope you are safe and taking care of yourself, and please know that although we are not together physically at this moment, we are together in spirit. And I hope the love our community has for each other is both a comfort and a welcome refuge.
All of us the world over are living through a time no one has experienced before; time has been frozen and our lives have been suspended. For me, after more than 40 years devoting my life to Road Scholar, a day has come I never imagined — a day when there are no Road Scholar participants learning together somewhere in the world on a Road Scholar educational adventure. While that reality was not one any of us wanted, we value the well-being and peace of mind of our participants above all else, and we made the decision to suspend all Road Scholar programs around the world through May 2020 in service to you.
Committed to You Now More Than Ever
Over recent weeks, in the midst of unprecedented restrictions on travel, our dedicated staff has worked around the clock to make sure that 731 participants who were attending programs in 25 countries were able to return home safely. I have been humbled by our team’s effort, dedication and commitment to you and your safety, and I am relieved to report all Road Scholar participants have returned home.
Road Scholar’s mission for 45 years has been to inspire and to empower older adults to enrich their minds and enhance their lives through learning. Through every world crisis we have endured, Road Scholar has always done the right thing for our participants — even when doing the right thing has had difficult financial implications for the organization. And, during this unprecedented world crisis, we have provided refunds, reimbursed travel expenses, and helped many with additional expenses incurred when programs were impacted.
Thankfully, rather than cancel their plans, many Road Scholar participants have elected to retain a credit with us and have committed to enrolling in another Road Scholar program in the future. We are providing credit toward a future program experience that can be utilized anytime over the next three years. While 21,500 participants were enrolled in programs this March, April and May that were suspended because of restrictions on travel, 50 percent of you have retained a credit with us toward future enrollment or are currently enrolled in Road Scholar learning adventures scheduled to operate in the summer and fall of this year and in the year ahead. That so many of you have committed yourself to Road Scholar’s future has lifted the spirits of each and every member of the Road Scholar community around the world.
Bending, but Never Broken
The time we are living through now is unprecedented, and even though Road Scholar has carefully set aside emergency funds over four decades in anticipation of difficult times, we are, as you might imagine, feeling the financial strain of 21,500 participants not being able to attend the programs in which they were enrolled over such a prolonged period. While we have so far been able to retain most staff members, we are all making sacrifices for the good of the organization — salaries have been reduced, some benefits have been eliminated, and some of us are even foregoing compensation for the remainder of the year. We are also carefully and prudently streamlining operations to guarantee we can serve you for years to come.
Here’s How You Can Help
We have heard from many members of our community who have asked how they can help Road Scholar, and there are important ways you can show your solidarity and assist us in this difficult time.
You can …
- Visit www.roadscholar.org/aid to download a letter we have written that you can mail to your government representatives explaining why Road Scholar deserves to receive aid that is currently being discussed in Congress for companies and non-profits in impacted industries.
- Do you have a personal connection with anyone in Congress? If you or anyone you know has any personal connections to a member of Congress, please fill out this form so we can connect with you and provide instructions on how to make a directed appeal.
- Make a tax-deductible donation to our Annual Fund. Your generosity today will go a long way toward making sure Road Scholar is able to serve lifelong learners for years to come. Please click here to make your gift.
- Enroll in a program for the coming year. Nothing helps as much as resuming our mission to serve all of our loyal participants in learning experiences around the world.
Continuing to Serve You Through These Difficult Times
Fulfilling our mission is more important than ever, so over the coming weeks we will be sharing opportunities to continue to learn with Road Scholar from the comfort of your home. We will be sending you live, online learning sessions delivered by Road Scholar faculty, curated online educational content and much, much more. We sincerely hope you will take advantage of these opportunities to stay an active member of the Road Scholar community.
We are living through a time that is the antithesis of what Road Scholar stands for. Community. Discovery. Joy. Those are the qualities that define our community, and they will lead us to brighter days in the future. I am deeply grateful that you are a member of the Road Scholar community.
With love and hope for the future,
Road Scholar President