A New Direction - Part 1

Greetings all,

We are quickly approaching the third full year of Taproot’s operation, and I must say what an exciting journey it has been so far. Three years ago we had only begun to discuss the idea of Taproot, soon putting numbers on paper and assembling our game plan. From the very beginning, we had an enormous amount to learn — from starting a business for the first time to running an engaging, safe, and eye-opening program in Philadelphia for a group of eager and adventurous emerging adults. As we arranged home stays and internships and designed thoughtful curriculum and planned trips throughout the city, we have come to learn so much about our neighborhood, our city, and the importance of gap year in cultivating the critical minds and thoughtful actions of tomorrow’s leaders. It feels this has been as much about our transformation as a program and as individuals as it has been about the transformation of the students we’ve had the honor to work with. So to all the Taproot alumni and their families, we thank you for the trust you have placed in us and for all of the ways you have helped us to grow in faith and action. Thank you!

Personally, I’ve had the pleasure of directing the Taproot team as we envisioned, revised and brought to life this exciting new program. The past three years have been a deeply formative journey for me and one I am incredibly grateful for. However, in recent months and with careful consideration and prayer, I have made the difficult decision to step down as the director of Taproot. Though this was not an easy decision to make, I believe it’s the exciting start to a new chapter for Taproot and for myself. With great anticipation and full confidence, I trust that Taproot will continue strong under the guidance and leadership of Kristen Utomo, who so many of you already know and love. As for me, I am pursuing a career in early childhood education and plan to begin teaching in a K-2 classroom in Philadelphia or Camden as early as next year.

Also, I have to say thanks! Thank you to all of the students that have come through our program, for all you have taught me and for the countless ways you have transformed my worldview. I pray you would never stop exploring nor striving to live what you believe. And to the Kivu staff (especially you, Luke!) for your faithful friendships and tireless commitment to making this world a better place. I pray that you all would continue to find a way to inspire and ground future generations in the radical love of Christ. And to the Taproot team, for your eternal patience with me and abiding love and friendship. I will always be your biggest fan! I pray that you will infuse your passion and life into everything you do and shine as bright as you can for all to see.

I am most fortunate to have had the opportunity to lead Taproot to where it is today and am very excited to see where Kristen takes it from here. I can’t wait to see what’s next!

Sincerely,

— Davis Rideout

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