The idea for Empowering Youth Through Travel began soon after EYTT founder, Jessica Mann gave birth to her daughter in 2005. Jessica always hoped to study abroad in college. Yet, after having a child at the age of 20 it did not take long for her to realize that the option was no longer available. Feeling restricted by her circumstances, Jessica knew that she would one day be successful enough to travel outside of the country. This event is what led Jessica to consider the multitude of inner-city youth encountering life situations far more limiting than her own. She acknowledged that teens living in some of Chicago's poorest neighborhoods may never have the opportunity to leave their communities, let alone see the world. Jessica promised herself that she would take these teens with her if she were to ever journey overseas.
Growing up, Jessica was also considered "at-risk, inner-city youth," and decided that as an adult she too can provide doors of opportunity to be opened by those who walk a similar path. In 2009, Jessica began working diligently on the business plan that would soon become the blueprint for EYTT today. Young and struggling as a single mother, Jessica worked odd jobs to support herself and her daughter, but that would also allow her the time needed to start up the organization. While in school, Jessica met a fellow student who gave her the name of a local program that paired start-up non-profits with pro-bono legal assistance. After gathering all the necessary materials together, Jessica applied to the program in hopes that she'd be accepted -- and she was! A few weeks later she learned that a lawyer had picked up her organization and would begin the process of incorporation and eventually, tax exemption. By May 2010, EYTT was officially incorporated and became a 501(c)3 tax exempt charity in early 2011.
Although the journey has just begun, Jessica and her team see no end in sight. She firmly believes that, "There may be obstacles and challenges in life that get in the way of following your dreams but without adversity, triumph would not exist."