Learn more about Relearn's past and current directors.
In 2012 Ryan traveled to the garbage dump community of Riverton, Kingston, Jamaica. While there, Ryan served the people who live and work in the garbage dump everyday. He was shocked that a place like this even existed and decided that, despite his age and lack of resources, he was going to do something to make a difference today. In August of 2012, at the age of 16, Ryan founded what would later be called the Relearn Foundation.
Ryan’s unfailing belief that education is the key to success encouraged him to better global education both locally and internationally in places like Riverton, Jamaica. He felt that every child deserves the opportunity to learn and in order to learn every child deserves to have school supplies. Ryan worked to secure donation bins and get approval to run collections in area schools. With the help of many wonderful supporters and countless volunteer hours from friends and family, in 2012 the Relearn Foundation had its first large-scale collection.
Shortly after founding the organization Ryan teamed up with his first co-director and longtime friend, Hayden Braaten. In their first year the two co-directors and all the volunteers at Relearn helped collect nearly 2,000 pounds of school supplies by placing 75 bins into 14 area schools. Supplies were then sent to Kingston, Jamaica, rural communities in Guatemala, and project schools in the inner city of Milwaukee. Ryan and Hayden served as co-directors from 2012-2014 while also founding the first board of students in 2013 and constantly working to strengthen the organization, expand collections, and get others involved.
Ryan currently attends the University of South Carolina. He is a public health major with hopes to later attend medical school. Ryan is also an avid outdoorsman, photographer, writer, and athlete. He still oversees operations at the Relearn Foundation and hopes to soon expand our mission to bettering global education through the construction of social facilities like schools, athletic fields, religious centers, and health facilities.
In 2011, on a service trip to Kingston, Jamaica, Hayden Braaten experienced education systems severely lacking in the most basic educational resources from school supplies to technology. He realized that this is not a unique problem, but one that cripples the well-being of numerous communities around the world.
With this in mind, Hayden joined forces with co-director and friend Ryan Anderson shortly after Relearn Foundation was founded in August of 2012. Together, they outlined a simple plan to bring school supplies to less fortunate students around the globe and have been going strong since, seeing the number of supplies increase by thousands of pounds from 2012 to 2015.
Hayden attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison for his freshman year, and will be transferring schools for his Sophomore year. He is undecided in his major, but is certain that there is one that he loves waiting for him somewhere out there. Aside from his work with Relearn, Hayden is a camp counsellor and outdoor expedition leader with YMCA Camp Manito-wish, passionate about literature and film, and a mountain-bike enthusiast.
If you wish to make the world a better place along with Hayden, you can reach him at email@example.com or P: 262-957-0453.
My goals for the Relearn Foundation during my tenure as director included: increasing involvement of area schools, establishing reliable communication amongst all board members, redesigning the Relearn Foundation website, and documenting the processes of our organization so that future directors would be able to see how my Co-Director and I executed different aspects of Relearn.
We were able to expand our reach by bringing on seven new schools, six of which were from the Whitefish Bay area which expanded our reach beyond Ozaukee County. With the assistance of my Co-Director, I was able to establish reliable communication between the leaders and the rest of the Relearn Foundation Board.
I believe that my biggest contribution to Relearn was the drastic redesign of our website. We now have a beautiful, functional, and social media-integrated site. Finally, I was meticulous about creating a paper trail of documents that would be helpful to future directors. I made sure to organize these documents for easy reference in our shared Google Drive.
When I first became the new Co-Director of the Relearn Foundation, I was left with mission- leave it better than you found it- and I feel as though I have accomplished that mission; to infinity and beyond.
My experience from numerous Pivotal Directions trips was an asset for the Relearn Foundation. This year I coordinated the distribution of supplies for Relearn. With my help we partnered with new organizations. One of which was MABO Home Haiti, a Cedarburg-based organization, took 800 pounds of supplies to orphans in Haiti. I also contacted many schools in the greater Milwaukee area to see if they would benefit from a donation.
I also helped organize a locker shelf giveaway to incoming 6th-graders at Webster Transitional School in Cedarburg. We were able to provide over 150 gently used locker shelves to Cedarburg middle school students. This way we were eliminating waste and giving back to our community.
After being the Assistant Director of Distribution in 2014, I was named Co-Director in the summer of 2015, along with Christina, and we began our work to leave the Relearn Foundation better off than when we had it. Originally, my main goals were to improve the situation at our storage locker, add local schools to collect from as well as donate to, and be the leader that did any job behind the scenes that was necessary to make things work.
My first project as director was to do research on achieving official 501(c)(3) non-profit status for the organization, which was halted, but will be pursued once we have enough Relearn alumni over 18 years of age to not shift the focus from students to parents. My next feat was to work on adding and managing new collection schools to the organization-- in the end, Christina and I collected from 7 new schools (24 in total), my proudest of which being my now alma-mater, Marquette University High School.
Another project I led was to improve the situation with our storage lockers in Cedarburg. One night, a group of students worked for four hours to clean out, sort, and then re-organize the base of our operations, which resulted in an improved plan of action when we had to sort all of the supplies we took in at the end of the school year. Beyond that, I singlehandedly raised over $2,000 for the organization which allowed me the financial capability to work out an agreement with the facility to give us a permanent extra locker across from our current one, as well as a temporary one for the sake of organization after unloading 150+ bins full of supplies.
My last big achievement was orchestrating the merger between Relearn and Will's Goodwill, an organization with the same goals and processes as ours. After an incident in which Relearn accidentally invaded into one of their three schools, I sat down with Mrs. Gebhardt and her daughter Annie to present my thoughts towards a potential merger for the betterment of both organizations. The final conclusion is that Relearn is going to absorb Will's Goodwill-- letting Mrs. Gebhardt get bins and supples out of their house, allowing Relearn to operate collections within their three schools, and have Relearn donate supplies to Will's Goodwill's local beneficiaries: the six HOPE Schools located throughout Milwaukee County. Most importantly, Relearn will proudly have Annie Gebhardt operate on our student board for potentially four years.
I leave Milwaukee and Relearn as a MUHS graduate, having given two years of service to the foundation along with eight international service trips with Pivotal Directions. Next year, I will be attending Villanova University as a business major and am excited for any challenges that await. Most of all, I would like to thank Ryan, Christina, Paul, Matty, and all of my board members for allowing me to work with them and I cannot wait to see where the organization goes from here!
I joined The Relearn Foundation in 2014 not realizing what a huge impact it would make. I was then a member of the board coordinating the collection of school supplies of Cedarburg schools. In 2015 I was asked to be the co-director of Relearn where I was in charge of both collection and distribution of supplies along with my other co-director, Patrick Keough. Patrick and I were able to expand our collection database to 24 school and collect enough supplies to fill an addition two storage lockers. I have taken Relearn's redistributed school supplies to students in both Belize and Costa Rica. I will continue to be a leader for The Relearn Foundation even if I have graduated high school, because not only have I changed Relearn, but Relearn has changed me.
After volunteering with Pivotal Directions starting in 2013, I began to grow a personal connection with students in Riverton, Jamaica, as well as witness an abundant shortcoming of educational tools. I watched how this negatively affected students in their education, leading to an inefficient learning environment.
I began working on the board in 2014 as a co-distribution director, as well as in 2015. Seeing for myself the impact the supplies I took from schools in Wisconsin to Jamaica and Guatemala had on students furthered my belief in the work the foundation does. I saw the joy on students faces as they worked with their new supplies, cementing my passion for the foundation and to be a part of it throughout high school.
The 2016-2017 season for Relearn started with Logan and I bringing in new volunteers. We worked hard at creating an organized and hard working group of students. We combined with the organization Will’s Goodwill’s, and together with the Gebhart family we collected more school supplies than before. We gave independence to our board members and empowered them to work their hardest.
I believe a great tool for success is education. Also, no matter your age, you can make a difference in the world. Along with that, I believe that the Relearn Foundation helps empower students in Wisconsin to donate, as well as further education in other parts of the world.
The Relearn Foundation taught me leadership skills that I couldn’t have learned anywhere else and taught me how to direct and encourage my peers and board members. I am excited to watch and help as the board expands and continues to support Relearn’s mission in the future. Thank you to Ryan and all past board members who taught me what it means to be a leader and a volunteer!