New Horizons Foundation
The mission of New Horizons Foundation, which was founded in 2000 in Romania’s Jiu Valley, is to inspire youth to lead and to produce social change. We do this by innovating and sustaining models of experiential education which empower youth to develop themselves, their communities, and the world in which they live!
Through our programs, young people between the ages of 11 and 19 are becoming more involved, more responsible, and more courageous. They are developing values, attitudes, and abilities which can truly help them for the rest of their lives.
All of New Horizons Foundation’s programs help youth develop personally and prepare them for life, regardless of the profession they’ll choose as adults. We promote experiential learning through all our programs, encouraging young people to DO what they dream of: to put their ideas into practice, and not just remain at the level of theory.
Our Work in Romania
At the national level, New Horizons Foundation has developed two educational programs which develop and transform Romanian youth: IMPACT (learning through community service) and VIAȚA (learning through adventure).
In order to reach these youth, we work directly with teachers, as well as priests, youth workers, and other educators. For this reason, we have developed two programs specifically for educators: Architects of Education, a professional formation program for teachers who want to use experiential learning methods in the classroom, and Community Schools, a network of schools which are integrated in and collaborating with their communities all across Romania.
Even as we’ve spread across the country, we stay closely connected to our roots in the Jiu Valley, leading community development efforts there through a range of outdoor education projects which benefit local disadvantaged youth and the entire community.
In 2008, the IMPACT program spread to its first foreign location with the opening of clubs in Honduras. Since then, it has expanded into over 20 countries across Europe and Central America. In 2015, a sister program called SKYE was developed (Skills and Knowledge for Youth Economic Empowerment) which quickly also spread into multiple countries around Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. Currently, there are over 250 IMPACT and SKYE clubs outside of Romania, benefiting approximately 5,000 additional youth.
New Horizons Foundation also hosts an annual study abroad and internship program for foreign college students through the Romania Semester, which is run in partnership with Northwestern College (Orange City, Iowa, USA). The fall semester abroad offers a unique experience to university students to spend four months studying in post-communist Romania. While living in the Jiu Valley, where NHF was founded, these college students study with local professors and experience Romanian culture, history, and language, while also learning about sustainable community development and participating in New Horizons Foundation programs.
Damian Oprea, 16 years old
“It was an unforgettable experience – you have fun and learn at the same time. This camp helps you to conquer your fears, like fear of heights or lack of trust in your team, and teaches you to build personal relationships with other young people, something uncommon in Romania in this era of technology.”
Seda Shahmuradyan, age 20
SKYE club member in Armenia
“It is really very hard for me to imagine a more rewarding or exciting opportunity than the chance to be a member of the SKYE program. I am doing good for others and for my community, which provides a natural sense of accomplishment and a sense of pride and identity. This has helped me to see myself as a leader, build upon skills I already had, and use them to benefit the greater community.”
Bryent Slagter, Northwestern College
Romania Semester alumnus
The Romania Semester
“My time in Romania has had a profound impact on the way I live my life today. I was loved and encouraged, in creative ways, by the people I met there. This sent me on a new track of loving people and thinking outside of the customary box. I learned that kind words and persistent invitations make people feel loved more than gifts or material possessions. In the end, love comes down to the time we spend with people. Romania has changed me more than I can know or describe.”