After learning that less than 30% of Americans have a passport, Kenji started Passport Life, a program that sends young people to other countries to broaden their experiences and pursue their passions.
I was in high school. And my father was saying, so what are you going to do? And I was like, I really don't know. I want to play ball, though. Unfortunately, I got hurt. And so I figured, if I can't play ball in college maybe I can work in ball. So I applied to the UMass sport management program. From then on, I was super adamant about utilizing all the resources at UMass Amherst, which is even the name of Isenberg School. People kind of already are like, wow. Like, what are you about? Like, let's sit down. Let's talk about it. So after I graduated, I became a strategist at a creative agency. And that was super inspiring-- working with brands, working with people. The event that happened in 2008 that helped me start the Passport Life, it was hearing a song. And on that song, I remember Pharrell saying, "Fly to Paris and end up in Tokyo. Let's start a coalition so even the broke can go." And I remember at that time I had never had a passport. I remember taking the day off of work. I was working at an agency. And I went to the post office. And I remember applying for my passport-- the best $135 I'd ever spent. I started using agency resources kind of just to research. And I found out that less than 30% of the country at the time had a passport. And so I went and said to my friends like, yo, who has a passport? Like, are these numbers true? And they were like, I haven't been anywhere, man. Like I haven't even been outside of New York. Travel is the most educational experience you can have. And I figured if young people could get that experience younger that they would only be able to unlock more experiences for them and for their communities. Every year, we look to raise money so one young person can get an all-expense paid trip. You really transform their life. They become a vessel at which they can go out into the world and create disruptive change. My UMass education I would say was a life education. It wasn't just about what I studied there. It wasn't just about, you know, the major or the diploma that I was able to receive. It was about the personal growth that I had. My name is Kenji Summers, founder of Passport Life. I stand for culture. And I stand for UMass.