ten years ago, Peter Underwood
founded a program he
is sure will compel average students to excel early-on in their daily classroom work and get better grades and thus increase their chances for college admission.
has found a cheap was for you to fly across the country.
The only catch?
You must perform 25 hours of community service and you should be a promising ninth grader.
Underwood, a United Airlines pilot, is the founder and chairmen of Reach for Tomorrow, a nonprofit mentoring program with a unique twist on how to improve the academic fortunes of underachieving adolescents.
The organization transports those youths to locales outside the Washington area- often military academies and universities-for hands on experience with vocations they may one day enter.
The Air Force veteran often uses his
connections with the military and the airline industry to score free airfare.
runs the program from his
Chantilly home and is looking to expands its reach in Prince William County, where it has operated with minimal scope for the last three years.
ran into non political opposition last week when he
requested funding from Prince William Board of County Supervisors
In 1993, Peter K. Underwood
first initiated the Reach
for Tomorrow program to offer students the opportunity to visit the United States Air Force Academy
belongs to the second category.
He is an American Airways pilot who makes $400,000 a year, but that has not stopped him from spearheading a selfless drive to help junior/middle school students in the District and in other parts of the country get better.
In 1993, it occurred to Underwood
that if students in the ninth grade who are averaging C's are targeted and assisted in attendance, attitude and achievement, what he
refers to as the "Three A's" of the Academics, not only would their chances of going to college become brighter, but the nation as a whole also would benefit from their improved knowledge.
Without wasting much time, he established the Reach for Tomorrow (RFT) program, to help the kinds of students he has in mind when he is not out there flying airplanes.
According to Underwood
, so far over 3,000 students have benefited from this program, from the Washington, D.C. through the Maryland and Virginia to Illinois, half of whom came from Washington, D.C. metropolis.
When Captain Peter Underwood isn't flying American Airlines jets, he's helping at-risk inner-city kids soar toward a more promising future through Reach for Tomorrow, a program he started in 1993 to inspire high school students to excel and continue on to a college education.
What began as one man's vision for making a real difference in kids' lives has now benefited more than 2,000 students from the Washington, D.C. and Chicago areas.
Backed by the hard work of Peter's volunteers, who number in the hundreds, and with help from American Airlines
and some corporate sponsors, the program has received recognition from the White House and the Department of Defense
believes that it's really up to "regular citizens" to help change the world.
"It all started when I met a great kid who had struggled through ninth and tenth grades, but later in his
junior year he
became motivated to attend one of the US military service academies," says Peter
Congdon is asking parents who have no seen the letters to please ask their children for the letters and to either sign these or the letter in The Journal and return it to the School Board Office to signify their support for the program. all the letters will be hand delivered, en masse, by Peter Underwood
to the Senate.
founded the nine year-old program to challenge raising 9th grade 'C' students through real world, hands on applications like flying an MD 80 airplane, learning navigation aboard a large military vessel, and science and engineering labs during the one week program.
Approximately 30 East Chicago students will be participating in the August 22-28 trip to the U.S. Navel Academy in Annapolis, Maryland: : "I established Reach for Tomorrow to give young people a chance to see what kind of life and career is waiting if you continue your education," said Peter Underwood, founder of RFT, "I invite the youth to apply, to see where their dreams might take them, and to set goals for new horizons that nobody has yet imagined."
Peter Underwood, Founder of RFT
In 1999 and 2000, 51 students participated in the August trips to the U.S. Navel Academy in Annapolis, Maryland: : "I established Reach for Tomorrow to give young people a chance to see what kind of life and career is waiting if you continue your education," said Peter Underwood, founder of RFT, "I invite the youth to apply, to see where their dreams might take them, and to set goals for new horizons that nobody has yet imagined."
"We're planting the seeds of tomorrow," said Peter Underwood, founder and chairmen of Reach for Tomorrow and a 1973 Academy graduate.
According to Underwood
, this program gives these students the opportunity to meet with cadets who have accomplished their goals and overcome their obstacles in their high school careers.
American Pilot Peter Underwood is opening doors some children may have never known existed.
In 1993, Underwood established the Reach for Tomorrow (RFT) program, and in the last five years, he has shown hundreds of teens that if they work hard and keep their grades up, they'll have more choices and opportunities come graduation day.
Underwood's approach- motivate children while they're young, before they are about to enter high school, and try to impart how important the next four years will be.
"When you his
about 12, you enter a phase in your life.
I call it a 'mental pause,'" Underwood
"Whether you emerge from that phase unscathed depends on the people you bump into along the way."
During their week-long activities, students in the RFT program find themselves bumping into cadets from the marine, air force, navy and merchant marine academies.
not trying to recruit anyone for these schools- he
simply wants to expose these youths to career opportunities that build upon a strong education, and thus shows them why school is relevant.
While staying at the academies, students take classes and labs, learn about different kinds of aircrafts (and in some cases fly them), and participate in teamwork drills.
"I call it High School Relevancy 101," Underwood
Colonel Peter Underwood, "This modern day 'Tom Sawyer' style program in that we have convinced many unlikely partners to work together to create a spectacular educational opportunity for students as they enter high school.
The program was started five years ago by Peter Underwood, a 1973 academy graduate, now a pilot for American Airlines.
was recruiting for the Air Force
developed the idea.
Peter Underwood, an airline pilot, once was told he was "too dumb, too fat and too slow," but he made the grade.
inspires teenagers to do the same.
But the most impressive force behind this experience was a man named Peter Underwood
"Who is Peter Underwood?
repeated my question over the roar of the engines of a C14 1 full of teens and their teachers on their way to Colorado Springs, "I'm just a citizen," he
"When I talk to kids I say, 'don't let anything stop you'" says RFT founder Peter Underwood.
"I tell them 'there are people who have overcome incredible adversity, and you can do this there is no question about it' that's my message to them."
Since 1993, RFT
has selected approximately 600 students from the Washington area and nearly 100 from Chicago this summer to attend its five-day basic training camps for the "motivationally challenged.
answer to student who wonder, "why am I learning this?
A group of Washington D.C. teenagers got an up close and personal look at the United States Air Force Academy August 11-14, thanks to DCA Domicile Vice Chairman Peter Underwood.
First Officer Underwood, himself an Academy graduate , founded "Reach for Tomorrow, Inc.," several months ago to help youngsters in inner-city schools become motivated about careers in aviation.
The main goal, says Underwood
, " is to build self esteem and provide positive experiences for these youth that will enable them to set higher goals and work towards them."
Working with the Mayor's Youth Initiatives Office, Underwood spent many long hours on the logistics of taking the students and their teachers to the USAFA. as these things often do, the projects became more complex than Underwood originally bargained fo