RFT can use the following resources throughout the year:

RFT is pursuing plans to expand its programs beyond the current scope,  which includes school districts in Alaska; Philadelphia, PA; Chicago,  Illinois; East Chicago, Indiana; San Diego, California; Montana; Virginia; and the Washington, DC Metro Area. In order to maximize the  impact of every dollar raised, we make extensive use of in-kind support
and pursue participation in existing government programs, which have available matching grants or other forms of support and assistance.

Private and corporate sponsorship in particular can have significant multiplier effects, as we can use such funds and the support they represent in pursuing matching funds from other sources.

If you are interested in becoming an RFT sponsor or partner, please contact usmailto:sponsor@reachfortomorrow.org.

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Colleges, Universities & Military Academies

RFT does not focus solely on improving grade performance, but also seeks to show students the relevance and rewards of values such as integrity, personal excellence, and service to the community and country.

Though RFT is not a recruiting program for any branch of the military, many of RFT’s strongest supporters are in military service academies or branches, among people and organizations who understand that the work RFT does grows the pool of potential applicants who meet the demanding academic and personal requirements of military service. In return, RFT gains access to the unique and to many young people, uniquely interesting resources, installations and individuals that make up the US military.

To maximize the program’s impact, applicants are selected based on a set of criteria which have been developed to ensure that the students who are most likely to benefit are selected for participation in the program.

These criteria include grades and/or standardized test results but also teacher recommendations, volunteer or community service, questionnaires and interviews with trained RFT volunteers. RFT conducts outreach in participating school districts throughout the country to inform students, parents and educators of the benefits of participation in the program.

RFT Volunteer

RFT Adult Volunteer Each student is provided with a local adult volunteer who is trained by RFT to build on this shared, unique experience. The summer experience is a critical component of the subsequent academic tutoring and guidance programs, as this serves as the initial short-term goal for each student as well as an opportunity to bond with their Adult Volunteer. Click here to read the Volunteer Point of View.

RFT Distinguished Advisory Board

The function of the Advisory Board is to expose business, military, and political leaders to RFT and the respective benefits to every community.

Mike Bowman. Recently retired for the U.S. Navy where he served as a Naval Aviator for more than 35 years. In his last tour of duty he was an active participant in the RFT program. He continues to actively support the organization in his current role as Senior Vice President in charge of Washington Operations for DRS Technologies Corporation.

Marlin Fitzwater. Former Press Secretary to Presidents George Bush and Ronald Reagan, Marlin is currently a media consultant. He is in demand as an international speaker on domestic and foreign events. Franklin Pearce College in New Hampshire recently named their newly constructed communications center in his honor. Marlin is an advocate of education and opportunities for students.

Ron Fogleman. Retired USAF Chief of Staff who currently serves on the Defense Policy Board and a number of corporate boards. He has extensive background in operations and strategic planning both in the military and in the corporate world. He is the founder of Durango Aerospace, an international consulting firm specializing in aerospace and media issues.

Frank Petroski. Senior Executive with The MITRE Corporation, Frank is currently the Chief Engineer for Joint and Defense Wide Systems. Frank works with the Chief Technology Officer at the Defense Information Systems Agency, performing technology reconnaissance for the IT infrastructure for the DOD. Prior to his current assignment, Frank was the Director for Air Traffic Management, where he worked with a wide range of international customers including the governments and airport authorities in Mexico, Egypt, Spain, Taiwan, Chain, and Japan, as well as concept development for Air Traffic Management capabilities in Canada. Frank holds a BS in Mathematics from Drexel University and an MS in Operations Research, George Washington University.

Major General Don Shepperd (USAF, ret.). General Shepperd is a graduate of the USAF Academy and served as Director of the Air National Guard before his retirement in 1998. He has an extensive background in operations and management, which he now utilizes as a consultant in the Washington, DC- area in defense related businesses.

The Honorable Walter J. Stewart. “Joe” Stewart, a native of Florida, arrived in Washington, DC, as a page to his congressman and never went home. His distinguished career in public service includes serving as Secretary of the Senate from 1987-94. Currently he is a partner with Griffin, Johnson, Dover & Stewart. With quiet dignity, he supports dozens of causes ranging from historic preservation of the US Capitol, to shelters for the homeless, to regional and international theatre and the arts. Joe resides on Capitol Hill and Lewes, DE.

Mrs. John Tanner. Betty Ann Tanner is a 1968 graduate of the University of Tennessee’s School of Design. In Washington, she oversees marketing and design for Shenandoah Shutters. An active community volunteer, she serves as President of the International Club, a member of the Board of Trustees of Ford’s Theatre, and the National Children’s Alliance. Mrs. Tanner and her husband divide their time between Washington, where John serves as a member of the United States House of Representatives, and their home in Tennessee.

Alma Viator. Alma is president of Alma Viator & Associates, a public relations firm located in DC and operating in New York, DC and LA. She is associated with Shubert Theatres, credited with opening the longest-running hit show on Broadway, “CATS.” In addition to representing high-profile, internationally-known clients, Alma is married to former two-term Congressman from Georgia, Ben Jones. Together they manage “Cooter’s Garage” in Sperryville, VA, named after Ben’s stint as “Cooter” on the television series “Dukes of Hazzard.” In 1998, Alma was named by Washingtonian Magazine as one of Washington’s 100 Most Powerful Women. She is also one of its most generous.

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Board of Directors

RFT is currently managed by the Chairman of the Board and Founder, supplemented by the Board of Directors. RFT’s strategic plan recommends a full time Executive Director to manage operations and a Summer Programs Director. The Board of Directors is comprised of individuals responsible for fiscal and administrative management, guided by an Advisory Board of business and government leaders

Peter K. Underwood is the Founder and Chairman of the Board of RFT. A pilot with American Airlines since 1988, he co-founded EIC Information Technologies, Inc., a small company that has developed innovative and proprietary instruments to measure liquid level in petrochemical tanks. Mr. Underwood is a 1973 graduate of the USAF Academy and a retired Lt. Colonel in the USAF Reserve where he interviewed prospective candidates for USAFA.

Dennis Rowe is a senior manager in charge of FAA airspace projects at Mitre Corporation and an RFT program manager for the 2000 USMMA program in Prince William County. Dennis received his Ph.D. in Computer Science in 1999 and developed all the testing and evaluation programs for RFT.

Melinda Fitzwater is a retired manager with the Boeing Company, and McDonald Douglas Corporation, where she directed their philanthropy programs in Washington. With a bachelors and masters degree in education, Melinda taught for several years in the Virgin Islands and Atlanta, with a focus on students of special interest to RFT programs. She served in the White House under President Ronald Reagan from l980 to l988, and was a public relations executive with the Susan Davis Companies for five years. She was a member of the U.S. election observer team in Mexico, and has been an RFT Board Member since its inception.

Beth James moved from Washington, D.C., to Southwest Florida in 2001 following a successful career in the non-profit arena, which included Ford’s Theatre and The Direct Selling Association Foundation. Her consulting company, The James Group, collaborated on a variety of special events and strategic planning with The Tall Ships, Museum for the Arts, Reach for Tomorrow, Viator and Associates, and Gillroy and Associates.

Continuing her non-profit involvement, Beth is a sought-after civic and community volunteer. She is a fundraiser for various political campaigns and was appointed as a member of the Art in Public Places Committee for the City of Bonita Springs and the Special Events Committee for the City by the Mayor and City Council. She is an active advocate on behalf of the humane treatment of animals and actively volunteers on behalf of GREY2K, a greyhound advocacy protection organization
.
She began her real estate career in Nashville, TN, earning her broker’s license and working in both residential and investment real estate. For 6 years, she affiliated with one of the largest investment companies in the SE, where she was a member of the on-site condominium conversion teams in Cincinnati and Columbus, OH., Atlanta, GA, Charlotte, NC, Chattanooga, Nashville, Memphis, TN, and Indianapolis, IN. During her tenure, her skills were utilized as a sales consultant, interior designer for the model units, property management and condominium board member.

In Naples, FL, Beth is a multi-million dollar producer with Tithe and More Real Estate Company.
She is recognized as a top-producer by the Board of Realtors, and in 2006, she was recognized in Gulf Shore Magazine for Five-Star Customer Service.

Idora (Idy) Marcus is the founding principal of Equimark RESOLVE., a company providing solutions, through advice and consulting, to new clients seeking help with complex strategic positioning and access issues. Ms. Marcus has a proven track record of business development, relationship building, and community outreach as was exhibited during the 1999 NATO Summit. Formerly, Idy served as Director of Corporate Development and Special Programs and Spokesperson at the U.S. Navy Memorial in Washington, DC. In addition, she orchestrated publicity for a speakers’ series at the Kennedy Center featuring world leaders and well-known celebrities such as Mikhail Gorbachev and Oprah Winfrey. While working with Horton Associates representing The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, Ms. Marcus coordinated numerous government, corporate relations, and production projects supporting the television and motion picture industries. Some of the projects she worked on include: The Hunt for Red October, Clear and Present Danger, Patriot Games, Biloxi Blues, Magnum PI, and The Tuskegee Airmen. Throughout her career Idy has devoted thousands of hours on boards and committees utilizing her strategic planning and positioning expertise for organizations such as the Washington Performing Arts Society and the National Museum of Women in the Arts. Idy has been a volunteer with RFT since 1999 and a board member since 2003.

Mary S. Gordon Vice President, Global Government Relations, Congressional Affairs
Nortel. Mary Gordon is Vice President, Global Government Relations for Nortel, one of the world’s largest suppliers of digital network solutions and most broadly diversified developers of high capacity switching and optics technology. She is responsible for developing and promoting the company’s positions before the U.S. Congress and developing, working with executives throughout the company, political strategies aimed at enacting good policies that ensure favorable growth for Nortel and its customers. Legislative issues on her agenda include telecommunications, trade and taxes.

Gordon serves on the Advisory Committee for the Capitol Historical Society, and is on the Board of Directors for the Digital Dialogue and the Homeland Security Digital Forum. She is a founding member of the informal Blue Dog Business Coalition and is active in business organizations from the States of North Carolina and Texas whose members have an interest in Congressional policy.

Prior to joining Nortel Networks in 1982, Gordon edited a major self-help book, People Power: What Communities Are Doing to Counter Inflation, for the White House Office of Consumer Affairs. She also covered Congress as a reporter for Neuhouse News Services.

Gordon served as legislative assistant to the late Senator Clinton P. Anderson (D-NM) where she handled matters relating to the Senate Interior Committee.

Gordon received a Master’s in Journalism and Public Affairs from American University and a Bachelor’s of Business Administration from the University of New Mexico.

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Chairman

Peter K. Underwood, RFT’s founder and chairman, is an active commercial pilot. Since 1998 he has flown for American Airlines out of Washington D.C. and for about 10 years before that flew for Eastern Airlines out of both Washington and New York. He has lived in suburban Washington D.C. with his wife since 1980; they have two grown children.

Underwood is an Air Force veteran who received his B.S. from the USAF Academy in 1973 and graduated first (a “Distinguished Graduate”) in pilot training class 75-01/02 at Vance AFB in 1974. He served active duty as an F-4 pilot in the 78th Tactical Fighter Squadron at RAF Bentwaters, UK from 1975 to 1978, and at Fort Ord, California from 1978 to 1979. He was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel in the Reserve in 1993. In 1998 he completed the USAF Air War College. He retired from the active Reserves in 2000 to concentrate on the Reach for Tomorrow program.

Underwood served as the elected Washington Vice Chairman of the Allied Pilots Association, the union serving over 10,000 pilots for American Airlines, from 1993-1995. He helped establish a federal credit union for the pilots of American Airlines and their families (which grew to over $60 million in assets in its first four years) and served on the credit union Board of Directors from 1994 to 1996. As a board member of the Allied Pilots Association he developed and implemented a disaster relief effort for south Florida following Hurricane Andrew which airlifted over 35 tons of food, water, and supplies within three days to the disaster victims.

From 1981 until 2000 Underwood served as an Air Force Academy Liaison Officer, giving him the opportunity to interview hundreds of students throughout the Washington, D.C. area. During this time he also developed an exercise program for applicants which was published by the USAF Academy for its 1900 Liaison Officers worldwide and which is currently in use at the Marion Military Academy. He was named Outstanding Liaison Officer for the Northeast Region by the USAF Academy in 1992 and Air Liaison Officer of the Nation in 1998. For his work with youth and the USAF he was awarded a second Meritorious Service Medal in 1998.

The experiences and insights gained from this involvement led Underwood to undertake a comprehensive review of why most youth wait until nearly the end of their high school experience to properly prepare for college. It became clear to him that many if not most of the qualities that make a good Air Force candidate are also applicable for general academic, professional, and personal success. He founded Reach for Tomorrow in 1993 and continues to guide the program today.

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The RFT Student

The program targets rising high school freshmen (generally, eighth graders) who have the capacity to excel in school but whose current grades or scholastic achievement do not reflect this potential.

This strategy is based on the observation that the pre- and early high school years are critical years in a young person’s life that frequently determine their academic future and life opportunities, but that all too often students who may have been enthusiastic, above average performers in school up to this point lose their interest in school, resulting in poor academic performance which never recovers.

RFT aims to intervene during these critical years to help a student maintain his or her enthusiasm for and momentum towards academic and personal excellence, first by giving the student a first hand look at the interesting and enjoyable opportunities that good grades in high school can open up for them, and then by helping them reach these goals throughout their high school years and into the college or academy application process.

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