Chris has been involved with Class Afloat since his son James joined the program as a high school graduate in 2013. Chris and James had been planning the trip for two years. Around the same time, Chris, a Rotarian, had been working with another Rotarian who was also the Executive Director of the Sponsor A Scholar Program. Both Rotarians considered the possibility of Sponsor A Scholar students attending the Class Afloat program.
Tragically, a few months after James returned home from spending a semester at sea, he died in a motorcycle accident.With grief weighing heavily on his mind, Chris decided to proceed immediately with the idea of sending students that qualify for the free or reduced lunch program at their high school to Class Afloat. In particular, graduates from the Sponsor A Scholar program at the Schenectady High School. That year Chris fully sponsored one student to Class Afloat.
In 2014, Chris established the Class Afloat Foundation USA and began working closely with guidance counsellors and teachers at local inner city schools to identify students who might benefit from the experiential education program offered by Class Afloat. To date, Chris has fully sponsored five students including Megan Ray, Mikayla McLean, Cody Nguyen, Megan Griesemer and Skye Robinson.
None of these students had ever left the United States, and in some cases, not even New York State. But in a period of 9 months at sea, each of them visited 20 ports on 4 continents, crossed the equator twice, earned first-year university credits, learned how to sail a tall ship, and completed voluntary service projects in both Senegal and Dominican Republic.
Chris’ goal now is to get other businesses, foundations and individuals involved as donors to enable the Foundation to send more students on this unique journey of self-discovery, academic pursuit and world travel.