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Homework Problems? Help Is a Click Away.By Pamela Gerhardt

If you are like many parents, there's a good chance you can't remember the last time you solved for X, were never really confident about the rules for when to use a comma, and find that the hourly rate for private tutors can be a bit daunting.

Yes, summer has had its last hurrah, and that means the homework season has
begun in earnest.

In the age of the Internet, however, online tutoring has become a viable option. The Prince George's County Memorial Library System, for example, offers an online, live tutoring service for students in grades 4 through 12. Tutors from across the country are online seven days a week, from 2 p.m. to midnight, for one-on-one help in math, science, social studies and English. They correspond with students by typing, using a virtual "chalkboard" and, sometimes, a microphone. The correspondence is anonymous and random -- though you can make an appointment for a specific tutor.

"We've basically broadened kids' interest in instant messaging," says George
Cigale, CEO of Tutor.com, which offers the tutoring service, called Live
Homework Help, to subscribing libraries. "Rather than chat about Britney Spears
they can ask a tutor about their homework."

In Prince George's, students can go to the library's Web site (www.pgcmls.info), click on the icon "Got Homework?" enter their library card number, grade level and subject they need help in. They will then instantly be connected with a tutor.

"It's a really good system," says Christopher Ramsey, a 14-year-old freshman at
St. Mary's Ryken who lives in Clinton. "Last year [while using the system] I started getting A's, where I had been getting C's and D's."

Ramsey and schoolmates were using accelerated math, a computer program, in class and came home each afternoon with assignments in their math textbooks. "There wasn't always time to go over the book in class," says Ramsey. "I'd get home and look at the assignment and realize I didn't understand the problem."

A few clicks later, he'd have his answer.

Tutor.com selects and trains the tutors, who include current and retired teachers, graduate students and college professors. Prospective tutors submit résumés and teaching samples that display how they would help a child solve a particular problem. Once they pass a security check, they receive technology training, participate in mock sample sessions, undergo a 30-day probation period and work with a mentor.

So is it possible that students could use the system to get someone to do their homework for them? Not at all, says Jennifer Kohn, vice president of marketing for Tutor.com. Tutors are trained to prevent such problems, she says.

"Every tutoring session is recorded and monitored," she adds. "If we see a tutor inadvertently giving an answer to a student, that tutor is reprimanded. Our tutor policies and guidelines forbid [completing homework for students]. Even if a student asks a simple question, the tutor is trained to ask, 'Why do you need to know this?' rather than simply answer it."

Prince George's, the only county library system in the metro area that is offering the service, last school year engaged students in nearly 4,500 tutoring sessions. Nationally and internationally, 600 libraries subscribe to the service. Last academic school year, more than a quarter-million kids across the nation logged on to Live Homework Help, according to the service.

"Kids have always been afraid to ask 'stupid' questions," says Cigale, who before launching Tutor.com was vice president at the Princeton Review. "Here, kids can communicate their special problems and dive right in and focus."

Tutoring can be expensive. Online tutoring services such as eSylvan charge $37
to $41 an hour, plus a $150 assessment fee. Prince George's Library spends
$40,000 a year for its subscription to Tutor.com.

"It's not inexpensive, but it's worth it," says Micki Freeny, director of the library system. "It fills the gap for the lower-income student who can't afford a private tutor, but it's
absolutely usable for all."

Rather than provide simple answers, "our goal is to help them think and to go away having learned something," says Pennsylvania-based tutor Tonya Allen, who taught for 10 years as a substitute teacher in elementary and middle schools and has a bachelor's degree in English. Tutors refer students with quick research questions ("What's the longest bridge in the world?") to the library's reference desk or other online resources (see sidebar).

"The information my teacher gives me sometimes I don't understand, but the tutor always answers my questions," says 11-year-old Destiny Holmes. A resident of Prince George's enrolled at SouthEast Academy of Scholastic Excellence in the District, she used the program about twice a month last year. Like Ramsey, her grades improved significantly.

"The year before she started using the service she had a lot of academic problems in school," says Destiny's mother, Chaney Holmes. "Last year, she made honor roll all four quarters."

Obstacles exist. Some kids type slowly or don't know how to ask their question.

"It took me a while to get used to typing back and forth," says Virginia-based tutor Susan Khatouri, a certified teacher with a bachelor's degree in microbiology who taught science and math for 13 years in Morocco. "Sometimes I would be sitting there at my computer wondering, 'Are you still there?' But the challenge shifted into a benefit -- students learn better communication skills.

"At the end of the session I make them repeat the answer in their own words. I know they've learned it," says Khatouri.

Adds Allen, "In addition to having learned the material, kids get comfortable with technology and using resources and asking good questions. It's a cliche, but every teacher loves that moment of recognition, that 'Aha!' look on a kid's face. They'll type, 'I get it now!' I answer back, 'I wish I had this when I was a kid.' "


Missoulian News - Montana
March 5, 2004
By:  Mick Holien
Program aimed at boosting students early in high school

A student's potential grade point average is largely determined by the marks they post early in their high school years.

But in many cases students do not understand the importance of excelling early in high school and thus eliminate themselves from getting into their choice of college because at graduation time their grades aren't sufficient for admission.

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. And he'd like to start the program in Missoula and eventually involve the University of Montana as a hosting institution. Reach for Tomorrow is a nonprofit origination which is focused on changing the attitudes of middle school students, those in their early teen years who either lose or don't posses the necessary initiative to excel academically. 


The Journal
August 12, 2003
By: Zack Phillips
Reach For Tomorrow charity stalled by P.W. supervisors

Peter Underwood 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.

Underwood 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. But he ran into non political opposition last week when he requested funding from Prince William Board of County Supervisors.


The Daily Review
August 1, 2003
By: Vivian Chen
Teens get a chance to reach for the sky

La Angello Young, 14, not yet old enough to get behind the wheel of a car, found himself steering a Cessna 172 plane 2,000 feet above Hayward Executive Airport.

Young was just one of 45 pilots for-a-day at the Flying Vikings Flight School. Under the supervision of a licensed pilot, teenager ranging in age from 13-16 were given a chance this week to maneuver through the air, taking planes through dips and turns.

"He (the pilot) just let the controls go and I was flying it," said Young, his face glowing with excitement. "It was fun."

On Monday, teens from Chicago and Washington, D.C. arrived in the Bay Area as part of Reach for Tomorrow, an East Coast based program designed to motivate and inspire junior high and high school students to succeed academically.


East Chicago Insider
February 2003
RFT program is directed towards students who have the ability to excel

Reach for Tomorrow (RFT) is an organization dedicated to working with the youth in the grades of eighth through tenth. The nonprofit program is directed towards students who have the ability to excel in school but may not be demonstrating this ability in daily classroom work. Students are chosen through a variety of criterion including, but not limited to, maintaining a C grade average, and scoring at least in the top 40 percent on the standardized tests. Students must also have a certain number of community service hours and meet with RFT trained volunteers, along with teacher recommendations illustrating a want for improvement academically from the student.

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 (USAFA). Inner-city "at risk" high school freshmen and sophomores were given the opportunity for the first time ever to eat in a cadet dinning hall, attend classes and labs, pilot airplanes and room with their cadet hosts. The program extended to include the East Chicago area in 1999, to give minority students the opportunity to be introduced to programs in the sciences, mathematics and defense. Plans to continue expansion to other states are also currently in the works with Clovis, New Mexico as a new addition.


The Washington Informer
March 27- April 2, 2003
By Sam Doku
Program Seeks Average Students Willing to Soar

To be munificent and donate freely to charity is a virtue any rich American can afford, but to be rich and donate your time to helping others is a mutually exclusive trait and usually a rare ingredient in the menu of rich people.

Peter Underwood 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.


American Way
American Heroes

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.

Peter 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. "His grades were improving substantially, but it was to late for his grade point average and his standardized test scores to meet admission standards.

I realized that if I could start sooner, and work with raising ninth graders who had the potential, we stood a chance of motivating them all the way through high school- ultimately giving them a shot at making it to college- perhaps even at a military academy.


The Journal
April 22, 2002
By: Susan Tracy
Reach for Tomorrow program gets underway at beach

Reach for Tomorrow regional coordinator Ann Congdon says, "We had our first planning session to develop both a timeline and a strategy for implementation of the program and I will be seeking ideas for fund-raising and community service.

"I am looking for those individuals who can contribute time as a mentor, have a possible community service outlet; and/or have funds they would like to donate."

The average cost per student for the week long program is $300-$500, all inclusive.

Letters are going home to parents asking Senator Warner to support a $500,000 to the Reach for Tomorrow program

Congdon says, "Our hope is that through a letter writing campaign we can persuade Senator Warner to commit $500,000 to the Reach for Tomorrow program which would greatly alleviate some of the fund raising pressure."

Approximately two weeks ago each child in the Colonial Beach School system took home a letter addressed to Warner. Parents were asked to sign and return them to school. 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.

Underwood 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.


Extra Credit
Vol 2 Issue 3
August 1999
Twin City Education Foundation introduces Reach for Tomorrow

The Twin City Education Foundation, Inc. is introducing a new program targeted to 8th graders from East Chicago parochial and public schools called Reach for Tomorrow.

Reach for Tomorrow (RFT) interviewed 8th graders who attended class regularly, who have the potential to make better grades, and who can benefit from a motivational experience that links them with positive role models.

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."


TR News
January-February 1999
Thinking Out Of The Box

Reach for Tomorrow, Inc. (RFT), a non-profit organization established in 1993, is an example of how concerned citizens in a community, together with industry and government, can make a difference in the future of the nations youth.

Reach for Tomorrow is all about using existing resources to motivate average students to excel... I call it High School Relevancy 101.
Peter Underwood, Founder of RFT

The program uses real-life experiences so students understand the importance of high school mathematics and physics.
Dr. George Rublein, chairmen, department of mathematics, College of William and Mary


Foundations of East Chicago 2000 Annual Review
Reach for Tomorrow

The Twin City Education Foundation, Inc. introduced a new program in 1999, targeted to 8th graders/entering freshmen, from East Chicago public and parochial schools called Reach for Tomorrow. Reach for Tomorrow (RFT) interviewed 8th graders who attended class regularly, who have the potential to make better grades, and who can benefit from a motivational experience that links them with positive role models.

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."


Academy Spirit
August 27, 1999
By Jennifer Brugman
Reach for Tomorrow comes to Academy

Reach for Tomorrow, a non-profit organization dedicated to increasing the confidence of inner-city students, brought 90 of these soon to be 9th grade students to the Academy August 17-21. The students gained hands on experience of the Academy. They had an hour of flight time and ran the confidence and leadership courses in Jack's Valley.

"We're planting the seeds of tomorrow," said Peter Underwood, founder and chairmen of Reach for Tomorrow and a 1973 Academy graduate. "Where else can you find such a responsible group of young people to mentor these kids?"

The 90 students, from the Washington, D.C. area, were each assigned to a cadet and stayed with them during their time here.

"They're good kids," said cadet 3rd class Brooke Bauer. "They all have a good head on their shoulders. They're a lot of fun too. It's been a good experience. We don't get to do stuff like this that often, and when we do it's great."

To be eligible for the Reach for Tomorrow program, students must complete at least 25 hours of community service, entering the 9th grade, be 'C' students and have standardized test scores in the top 40 percent.

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.

"These 8th graders realize what they can do and what they need to do to obtain their goals," said Shannon Costa, team leader with Reach for Tomorrow. "These students are going to get the confidence to be assertive in class and ask questions if they don't understand something. They get a heads up about high school from someone closer to their age, actual students who know their culture and they're lingo. Every cadet I've seen was proud to be, and to do a good job as a role model in etiquette and manners-very cordial."


Flagship News
August 10, 1998
Showing Students How to Fly

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 says. "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. Underwood says he's 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 says. "If we can take these kids out of their environments and show them a place like Colorado or Annapolis or any university were they are doing chemistry, physics, electrical engineering, we can inspire them to go back to school and take the classes they need to get into college."

Thanks to corporate sponsors like American, about 300 students will participate in the program this summer free of charge. In June, American flew 90 Washington D.C. youth to San Diego. American volunteered the airplane, an AA crew donated their time, Shell Oil Company supplied the fuel, and a long list of other companies provided services and funds for the week's activities.


The Dispatch/At Ease
July 16, 1998
SD military helps students 'Reach for Tomorrow'

Unlike the proverbial "elephant" created by committee, the community based Reach for Tomorrow (RFT) program has designed an "elephant" with the right public and private partners, volunteers, and mix of planes, trains, ships and boats, astronauts, chefs, dog handlers, and even college professors that does know its head from its tail. From June 24 through June 30 Washington, D.C. area high school freshmen spent a week learning why they must excel in high school so they can all attend college. Students left Washington aboard a donated American Airlines MD-80 aircraft piloted by volunteer crews.

According to RFT founder and chairmen, USAF reserve Lt. 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." Shell Oil Company supplied the fuel, Dobbs International and LGS Sky Chefs catered the flights, Ogden Allied refueled the planes, and both the port of San Diego and Metropolitan Washington airport Authority donated the landing fees. Even drinks, snacks and suntan oil were supplied courtesy of CVS, Inc.


Chicago Tribune
August 25, 1997
By Dennis O'Brian
Kids take journey to expand their reach

Program points students toward endless horizons.
Antoine Rodgers was psyched. The 14 year-old South Shore youth was waiting to board an airliner and take his first flight.

"I've never been on a plane before, you know?" Antoine said as he anxiously looked around the terminal at O'Hare International Airport for something to take a picture of.

Earlier this month, the first group of 90 youths flew to the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs.

Though the destination for Antoine's group was different, the goals of both trips were the same: to spark student interest in math and the sciences, to teach problem solving skills and to show the students that no matter where they come from, there are ways to get out.

"A lot of these kids don't feel that they have a chance to go to college," said Lt. Ken Barber, trip organizer and Midwest region admissions officer for the Navel Academy. "They think college is for someone else, someone smarter than them."

"We try to show them that everything they do in school, starting the first day-Thursday-has an impact, and that they can succeed in obtaining a college scholarship and a degree just like any other kid," said Barber, who grew up on Chicago's South Side.

All of the youths on the trip, except one from Rodgers Park, are from the South Side, Barber said. They were selected because they were intelligent but lacked interest in school.


The Gazette
August 14, 1997
By: Rex W. Huppke
Flying high distances kids from city

Chicago group visits Air Force Academy
Eric Lites, 14, leaned against a hanger at the Air Force Academe airfield Wednesday and gazed apprehensively at a single engine Cessna.

Soon, he would climb into the plane. Then he would fly it.

For five days, Eric and about 90 other kids are trading the cement-and-mortar landscape of Chicago's inner city for the tree covered mountains of Colorado and a pair of wings.

They arrived at the academy earlier this week, courtesy of Reach for Tomorrow, a nonprofit organization that sends children to America's military academies each summer. The programs expose the youths to positive role models and encourage them to start thinking about a career.

The program was started five years ago by Peter Underwood, a 1973 academy graduate, now a pilot for American Airlines.

Underwood was recruiting for the Air Force when he developed the idea.


Checkpoints Magazine
Reach for Tomorrow Program Benefits Disadvantaged Youths

In 1997, Reach for Tomorrow (RFT) managed a $1.4 million program for less than $35,000 with no paid staff. We have been asked to bring our organization and leadership model to many communities. But we need your help. First, we need your expertise as leaders in your communities to network with our business and political leaders. Second we need your companies to support RFT (and thus USAFA) through their employees, products and service, and grants. Third, we need you to get personally involved with RFT as mentors for our student when we target students in your community. Why?

In the 1980's Academy Admission projected to its liaison officer force that the first half of the 1990's would be a difficult one in terms of attracting the same number of high school seniors. First, there would be 25 percent less graduating seniors from which to draw, as the baby boom would be over. Second, the need for pilots would be less as wings reduced in number and we too advantage of the "peace dividend". With fewer UPT slots, USAFA in 1988 decreased to about 8,500 in 1993 and this number has remained fairly constant through 1998. Do any of you recall earlier additions of checkpoints this decade when Admissions was asking its graduates for names of potential candidates? Other academies have nearly 40 percent more applicants than USAFA to this day.


DFW People
July 31, 1997
By Bill Leader
Reach for Tomorrow

AA pilots urge teens to stay focused and committed on choice of careers
American Airlines Capt. Randy Julius advised a group of 14 year-olds to aim high in their choice of careers and remain focused on that choice. And he stressed, they may not allow anyone to deter them from their choice.

"There will be people, who will tell you, 'You're not good enough to do that' or 'You're not smart enough to do that.' Don't listen to them because it's not true.

Capt. Julius was among five American Airlines captains who volunteered their Sundays (July 27) to escort 13-14 year-old youngsters- all from low income families of Washington D.C.- around the American Airlines flight academy and the C.R. Smith Museum.

American Airlines donated 30 seats on a Boeing 757-200 for the flight from the nations capital to DFW International Airport and back.

The DFW-based pilots- Capt. Julius, Capt. Skip Stoner, Capt. Bob Szablak, Capt. Paul Herrbold and First Officer Perry Payne- were involved in a program called Reach for Tomorrow.

Sunday's program was not just an interesting tour. Each of the pilots was assigned a group of youngsters and the exhorted them to aim high and stay focused on a career choice. Whether the youngsters' ambition was to become a pilot, a flight attendant, a mechanic or nothing to do with aviation industry, the pilots advised them, "Go for it!"


Parade Magazine
April 16, 1995
By: Michael Ryan
He Helps Their Dreams Take Flight

Peter Underwood, an airline pilot, once was told he was "too dumb, too fat and too slow," but he made the grade. Now he inspires teenagers to do the same.
Ebony Lea settled into the front seat of the yellow sailplane. "I've been looking forward to this," she said, smiling as three athletic young men pushed her onto a taxiway and hooked up her craft to a tow cable. "It's a lot of fun!" A small single-engine plane towed Ebony's craft down the runway and, after takeoff, several thousand feet into the air. Then, with a grinding bump, the tow cable was unlatched, and Ebony's sailplane soared on its own. She stayed at the controls much of the time until the final approach, when the U.S. Air Force Academy cadet in the seatbelt behind her took over and brought the craft safely back to land.

"This was a once-in-a-lifetime chance for me," explained Ebony, 15, when she returned from high above the Rocky Mountains. "It's made me think about what I can do with my life."

A lot of powerful forces had come together to bring Ebony Lea and 58 other junior high students from Washington, D.C., to spend a week with cadets at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. Generals, colonels and civilians in the Pentagon and at the Academy, members of the Senate and the House and even the White House staff had worked to make the trip possible. But the most impressive force behind this experience was a man named Peter Underwood.

"Who is Peter Underwood?" He 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 said. "That means I have as much right as anyone else to put on a suit and tie and go to the Pentagon and ask for an appointment with the commanding general of the Air Force Reserve. So that's what I did.


Metropolitan Times
August 16, 1995
By: Gretchen Lacharite
Teens reach for more

Horizons broaden on Colo. visit
Before last night, Earvin Shade had been in an airplane only once in 15 years, flying to Ocean City and back on a small plane.

By the time he returns next week from the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., he not only will have logged a considerable number of miles in the air, he will have climbed into the cockpit and piloted a plane himself.

He and 89 other D.C. students- many of whom had never been on a plane- will also have eaten meals, attended classes and shared a dorm room with the the Air Force cadets they will shadow for the week.

They will also visit Air Force officials, hike in the Rocky Mountains, run a confidence course and sit in a flight simulator. They'll take the controls of a real plane, too.

The students, 60 of whom live in public housing, left last night from Washington Dulles International Airport on the five-day trip sponsored by Reach for Tomorrow, a program aimed at developing confidence and self esteem for inner-city youth.


The Washington Post
By: Andrea Sachs
Challenging Students to Reach for Tomorrow

A Power Boost for Middle-of-the- Roaders
Sixty students, just days away from entering high school, were faced with this challenge: Safely deliver a box of explosives through a mine field, over an electrified fence and past a bottomless pit, all before the enemy, a mere ten minutes away, attacks.

Keeping their cool, the thirteen and fourteen- year olds save the day with a Planck of wood and a piece of rope provided by the U.S. Navel Academy. However their real set of survival skills-- appropriate more for the pressures of school and the streets than for war-- came from the non-profit program "Reach for Tomorrow" (RFT).

"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." RFT is Underwood's answer to student who wonder, "why am I learning this? What use is it to me?"


October, 1993
DCA Pilot Helps Kids "Reach for Tomorrow"

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 for, but at last, 57 very excited kids headed out for Colorado Springs and an experience they'll surly never forget.


Chicago Tribune
August 13, 1997
By: Merita Llo
Sky is no limit for 90 of Chicago's students

Spending four days at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., meeting pilots, taking parachute training lessons and even piloting a plane is what many young students would like to do before heading back to school.

And 90 Chicago high school freshmen, mostly from Chicago Housing Authority homes, are going to do just that.

With backpacks filled with cookies, candy and music tapes, 8th and 9th grade students gathered Tuesday morning at the Illinois Institute of Technology's Department of Military Science building at 31st and State Streets and boarded buses to O'Hare International Airport.

The students will live and work with cadets, attend classes in chemistry, physics and electrical engineering, learn about tower operations and participate in basic parachute training.

They also will pilot light training planes with assistance of trained personnel.

And in the training, they will learn the Air Forces three core values- integrity first, service before self and excellence in all we do- slogans previously heard by them only in action movies.

Leading the training will be Malbarn M. Wakin, philosophy professor at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs.

The students are sponsored by the non-profit Reach for Tomorrow organization, which in the last three years has sent over 500 students from Washington to the three major military academies: the U.S. Air Force Academy, the Annapolis Naval Academy and the West Port Military Academy.


The Washington Post
August 19, 1993
By: Amy Porter Munster
Learning That the Sky's the Limit

Ex-Pilot Teaches Teens About 'Sweat Equity'
on Trip to Air Force Academy
Fro 57 District youngsters, it was the ultimate field trip; a ride on the chartered jet President Clinton used during his campaign followed by four days at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado.

The wacky part was how they got it: from a middle-aged, suburban, former fighter pilot they never heard of who happened to have two late blooming children and a nagging social conscience.

Peter Underwood, 43, now a commercial pilot and school liaison officer for the Air Force, calls it just "checking six."

That's fighter pilot slang for taking a periodic look back for enemy aircraft.

The lesson of the journey to the academy for bright teenagers with big dreams but little money would be that "there are goals out there. All it costs you is sweat equity," Underwood said. With that he dubbed the program "Reach for Tomorrow" and set out to market it to D.C. junior and senior high school students.