More than 400 students applied for our first By Invitation Only program last summer, which allowed 10 future change makers to explore issues related to Islam and its portrayal in the media—free of cost. We created the By Invitation Only program to give talented and driven students the opportunity to participate in an immersive learning experience designed to give them the skills they need to make change without cost being a barrier.

This year’s program, Race in America, will allow students to explore the complicated history of race in the United States. They will examine current challenges for black communities through a historical lens by learning from and meeting with organizations and individuals working to create equal opportunity for all.

The application period for Race in America opens today. The deadline to apply is Jan. 3, 2018. Click here to apply! If you are an educator, parent, friend, or family member of someone who would be perfect for this opportunity, nominate them here

To help provide more information about By Invitation Only and this year’s program, we asked Erin Murphy, Rustic’s Director of Student Impact, to answer a few questions. Erin helped create the By Invitation Only program and is developing Race in America.

1. How did Rustic come up with the By Invitation Only concept?

We’re always trying to think of ways to make our programs more accessible. And at the time, we were exploring ways to make our scholarships more impactful so we decided to create something that would appeal to all students while attracting those who might not have been able to afford a Rustic program. Plus, by opening it up to everyone, we knew we would get the most inspirational bunch of change makers possible, which we did.

2. How was Race in America chosen for this year’s program?

It’s our way of acknowledging that the United States has a problem with race. Creating this program was a way for Rustic Pathways to take action. If I’m being honest, when my colleague first suggested it, I didn’t want to do it. But when I stopped to think about it, I came to the conclusion that I didn’t want to do it because I was scared. If we don’t face what makes us uncomfortable, especially regarding issues of race, we won’t make any progress.

And, sadly, recent events of the past few months like the unabashed demonstration of hate towards people of color by white supremacists in Charlottesville make me confident we chose the right topic and excited to dive into this complex challenge. To make sure this program is impactful and we approach these topics respectfully, we’re working with consultants and organizations striving to rectify issues related to injustice and inequity.

3. What did you learn from the pilot program in Morocco that you’ve applied to Race in America?

We got a crazy amount of applications and the decision was really hard because of the caliber of students who applied. In reading the applications, it was clear that we got students who wouldn’t have heard of or enrolled in Rustic programs if it weren’t for the fact that this is a free program for amazing students. This year, we hope to spread the word about this opportunity even more widely.

Click here to apply for the Race in America scholarship. All Rustic Pathways scholarships open today. For more information, visit our Financial Aid and Scholarships page.


Need more information about By Invitation Only: Race in America? Tune into our upcoming online meetup about Rustic Pathways scholarship programs. Click here to register.

About the Author

Rachel Levin

Marketing Associate - Community Engagement

With over four years of experience leading programs for Rustic Pathways, Rachel’s commitment to our students’ experiences is top notch. She has led programs in Costa Rica, Peru, Tanzania, and Ghana and has extensive knowledge of our programs and operations. A graduate of University of Vermont with degrees in sociology and Spanish, Rachel now focuses her love for travel, writing, and her unquenchable curiosity of our natural world as Marketing Associate in Community Engagement. Rachel is a talented ceramicist and lover of the outdoors based out of Jackson, WY.