Dear VOBS Friends,
As I write this, I am thinking of all the people around the globe who are impacted by the Coronavirus pandemic in one way or another. Most people have either said it, or thought it, but these are truly unprecedented times.
It’s impossible, as I think of my own family and yours, not to hear the words of Franklin Delano Roosevelt in his inaugural address: “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”
It was 1933, perhaps the lowest point in the Great Depression, and FDR was delivering a moral imperative to choose courage over fear. Today, as in 1933, we may have few choices in the face of crisis, but the choices we do have are just as important. Like those who have come before us, we can choose courage over fear. We can also choose hope over despair. We can choose belonging over isolation and, perhaps most importantly, we can choose compassion over indifference. FDR told the nation he wanted to “speak the truth, the whole truth, frankly and boldly,” and I will be just as frank and bold with you today:
Today, we need you because tomorrow the world will need Outward Bound.
Today is about survival. Together, we face not only a probable economic depression, we face threats to our health and social fabric. This crisis does not discriminate, but it does exact a greater toll on the most vulnerable citizens and organizations. People who are at risk or under-resourced, either physically, emotionally or economically, stand to lose more and will need greater support from those who are equipped with the expertise or means to help.
The survival of community and mission-based organizations like Outward Bound is also threatened. Voyageur Outward Bound School is a strong, legacy organization. We’ve been around for 56 years. We are uniquely positioned to support under-resourced people with life-changing experiences that promote belonging, strength and purpose. No question, the world will need Outward Bound in the weeks, months and years to come. VOBS can give people the tools to thrive at home, in school and at work, but VOBS must weather the current storm.
We must survive in order to thrive.
The Coronavirus pandemic has paused student enrollment, damaged our cash flow and forced us to temporarily furlough our greatest resource – our staff. VOBS can give people the strength to meet unprecedented challenge, but we need your help to survive this storm today, so we can thrive tomorrow.
How will VOBS survive in 2020?
Unrestricted funding will help VOBS:
- Mitigate a $2M 2020 budget shortfall due to interrupted enrollment
- Recover basic cash flow to weather the current storm
- Continue health care coverage for staff
- Pay core crew to support basic operations and pursue revenue during furlough
- Conduct minimum maintenance at our basecamps during the emergency
- Continue basic operations to stay viable and act quickly when enrollment returns
What is VOBS doing (in addition to asking for support) to ensure survival?
Taking immediate action:
- Cutting all but the most essential costs
- Temporarily furloughing 19 program leadership and office staff
- Cutting the pay of the remaining 13 program leadership and office staff
- Drawing on current bank line of credit
- Pursuing all available federal emergency funding
How will VOBS thrive in 2021 and beyond?
Unrestricted funding will help VOBS:
- Retain and train our field staff, invest in our corps of excellence to deliver our mission
- Retain core management team to support staff and preserve integrity of delivery
- Retain core leadership team to continue to chart course and execute to our vision
- Continue to change the lives of underserved students through scholarships
- Continue to make a positive impact on communities through urban partnerships
- Continue to improve our base camps for efficiency and safety
- Continue to innovate and lead in outdoor and social-emotional learning
What will VOBS do (in addition to asking for support) to thrive tomorrow?
What we always do!
- Choose courage over fear
- Chart a bold course for the future
- Change lives through challenge and discovery
- Work toward a more compassionate and resilient world
- Serve the underserved
- Support our staff
- Practice fiscal responsibility
- Celebrate the student experience
- Go Outward Bound
Please join the VOBS crew. Let’s survive and thrive:
DONATE: Give dollars today so VOBS can serve tomorrow.
SHARE: Tell your Outward Bound story and inspire others.
CONNECT: Discover belonging, strength and purpose.
We know that everyone is affected in different ways by this challenging environment, and not everyone can make a gift. If you cannot support us today, please take comfort in sharing your Outward Bound story or connecting with the VOBS community:
Thank you. People like you, who have experienced Outward Bound, know what it is to endeavor together, to face challenge, to choose courage over fear, find solace, grasp hope and triumph together.
Together, we will weather this storm.
Jack Lee, Executive Director, Voyageur Outward Bound School