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Uniquely EXPLO 

As a mission-driven nonprofit organization, EXPLO has core priorities that are important to us. They inform our summer programs as well as the work we do year-round, both on behalf of our students and for the advancement of education everywhere from independent schools to the public sphere. 

Our Mission

At EXPLO, our engine is curiosity.
We drive joyful learning through investigation, collaboration, and play.

Diversity of thought and diversity of culture allow us to generate exciting possibilities for the future. We interrupt assumptions, pursue understanding, and activate minds and voices, whether supporting a learner with a stubborn challenge or helping a school navigate strategic complexity.

Values in Action: 

Be kind. Be safe. Be true. Be curious. These are the values we live by at EXPLO. They're fundamental to everything we do, from exploring new worlds in the classroom to living together in residence halls to adventuring on off-campus trips. They’re our community expectations, simple yet powerful, and they animate our culture.


We train our staff using these ideas and discuss them with students in every class and in every living or day group. You’ll see them displayed on posters throughout every EXPLO campus. Why so much effort? Because we don’t take these values for granted. We make our shared beliefs clear because they help foster the diverse, collaborative community we’re known for—and ensure a magical summer experience for everyone.


Hear it from EXPLO students:

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"Last year, I felt so much kindness at EXPLO. I felt welcome the second I got to my dorm. I made my best friends within hours of getting there."


I am myself no matter what. If you aren’t yourself then you’ve constructed a space around you that's fake. Your friends have a different image of you and may not know you for who you really are.”


“A big part of safety is being able to have fun and not be embarrassed to be yourself.”


“Having honesty and integrity means owning up to your mistakes. After all, mistakes are one of your best learning tools.”


It’s always good to be kind to someone, whether you know them or not. Kindness can help others make new friends and it can strengthen your bonds with other people. If you have a problem you might need someone to talk to, and if you have good bonds with someone you can always go talk to them.”


“If you’re curious, then you will be the one looking for the answers in life. If a prehistoric hunter hadn't wondered if there was an easier way to eat than hunting for food with their bare hands, would there even be civilization?”


“The diversity makes me feel at home, knowing that I'm not alone and there are not just staff or teachers but also dorm-mates, students, and friends who have gone through similar experiences. That support means so much to those of us who have feared being singled out for our dissimilarity.”


“The environment here lets you do a lot of new things. Everyone is from all around the world, everybody is open to new things. EXPLO is about trying things you haven’t done before and being yourself while doing it.”


Helping Young People Find Their Spark

Since EXPLO was founded almost 50 years ago, we’ve been providing opportunities for young people to put their curiosity into action and explore the world of people, ideas, professions, and places. This exploration helps students discover what lights them up—what is meaningful to them—fueling a life of passion and purpose. 

Simply put, young people who find their spark are happier, healthier, and better able to meet life’s challenges.  

So how do we help young people find their spark?

If you haven’t seen something, it’s hard to imagine it. Young people have a tendency to choose paths from the options they’re exposed to. Limit their exposure, and you limit their paths. At EXPLO, we give students a broad palette of options to choose from—generally, subjects, topics, projects, and activities that aren’t available at home or at school. Days are packed with engaging workshops, electives, courses, concentrations, site visits, clubs, leagues, activities, athletics, performances, and trips. 

We select our faculty and staff because they are passionate and enthusiastic, and know that helping you find your spark is important work. They know you and are invested in you. They’ll encourage you to try new things, and encourage you when you don’t get it right the first time—or the second, or the third. When you're closing in on finding your thing, they'll be there to fan the flames of that discovery and guide you to opportunities to do more. There is a constant “spark dialogue” at EXPLO between faculty and students that animates all of our programs and drives students' discovery about themselves and the world. 

Experiencing something is different than simply seeing or hearing about it. At EXPLO, we focus on experiential learning. Putting your hands on things. Doing real-world projects. Engaging in some of the actual work of a profession. As much as possible, we’re trying to get young people to imagine, understand, and feel what it might be like to be a scientist, journalist, physician, engineer, diplomat, entrepreneur, artist, or scores of other possibilities. This requires creative and innovative curricular design, lots of equipment, careful classroom/lab/studio setup, and the kind of teaching that isn’t often done at schools or in colleges and universities. 

It can be shocking to young people—and their families—just how transformational a two to three-week experience can be. This doesn’t happen by accident. Our programs are carefully curated and designed to maximize engagement and growth. It’s one of the reasons so many of our alums have gone on to do important, innovative, and impactful work and to lead lives of meaning and purpose.  

Doing Good in the World


EXPLO has worked with scores of schools and non-profit organizations over the years to provide training, insights, curriculum development, and actionable recommendations. These partnerships lead to organizational growth, outstanding student outcomes, and positive community impact.  Here are just a few of the projects we’ve contributed to:

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Reversing Summer Learning Loss for Thousands

A Teach for America alum had an idea. Take community center summer camps serving low-income students and turn them into enrichment programs that would help reverse the summer learning loss that was plaguing all of the campers. EXPLO helped incubate this idea and volunteered upwards of 1000 hours of consulting to help get the SummerCollab launched.  EXPLO worked in partnership with the SummerCollab team on everything from leadership training to scheduling, staff hiring, curriculum development, instructional coaching, and student choice and voice. This award-winning non-profit organization has now served thousands of young people and continues to make a difference in the lives of thousands each summer.


Bringing Civil Discourse to America's Classrooms

EXPLO partnered with PBS Education on a national project to promote civil discourse during the contentious presidential election season. We developed a civil discourse curriculum, poster, and toolkit that was distributed to 25,000 public school teachers and classrooms in all 50 states.

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Cultivating Leaders in the Mississippi Delta

The Sunflower County Freedom Project is creating a corps of academically capable, socially conscious, and mentally disciplined leaders in the Mississippi Delta. EXPLO brought the year-round Freedom Project staff to Boston for an intensive professional development program. We worked with them on expanding and deepening their skills and understanding of leadership and staff management, creative and engaging curricular design, and experiential learning and pedagogy.

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Building STEM Skills and Career Readiness in Camden

We designed our Mars Exploration course for our summer program with the help of EXPLO alum Katie Stack Morgan, Deputy Project Scientist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory for the Mars 2020 rover mission. The course had been incredibly well received by EXPLO students and we knew it should get a bigger audience. We modified the course, and through the support of the Domenica Foundation,  it ran in the Catholic Partnership Schools in Camden, New Jersey. The course focused on STEM and career-readiness skills, and was a raging success. The Domenica Foundation went on to expand the program to serve hundreds of low-income students in three schools.

Get In Touch

We're a friendly, dedicated group who are passionate about EXPLO and eager to share its magic. Reach out anytime to connect, ask questions, or join us for an unforgettable summer.