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Type Student travel organization
Founded 1967 (07/12/1999)
Headquarters 218 West Water Street, Suite 400
No. of locations 14
Key people Board Members: William "Will" Darman, Managing Director, Carlyle Group
Industry Recreation Facilities & Svcs
Products organizes student travel packages for schools in the United States.
Services Consumer Discretionary
Employees 500
Divisions Lakeland Tours LLC, doing business as WorldStrides.

Worldstrides International, LLC provides students travel services. The Company offers elementary, middle, graduate students, and adults travel services. Worldstrides International serves customers in the United States.[1]

After sustaining significant financial losses because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Charlottesville-based WorldStrides filed for bankruptcy protection on July 21, 2020 in federal court of the Southern District of New York, but says it will continue paying active employees.[2]

The company was sold in 2016 to capital investment firms Metalmark Capital and Silverhawk Capital Partners.[3]

It was founded as Lakeland Tours in Illinois in 1967 by middle school social studies teacher Phil Wendel. [4] [5]WorldStrides is a privately held American company, owned by The Carlyle Group, Charlesbank Capital Partners, and Silverhawk Capital Partners.[6][7]

Jim Hall, Wendel's nephew, led WorldStrides into international travel after becoming CEO in 1998. Today, international travel is the company's main source of annual revenue[4].

Move to Charlottesville

WorldStrides moved from Illinois to Albemarle county in 1979[4]. It moved into its new headquarters in the Waterhouse building in downtown Charlottesville in November 2011. The Charlottesville Economic Development Authority provided some of the financing through tax increment financing. [8]

When WorldStrides moved to Albemarle, most of the company's 15 employees followed, and it still retains some employees form its early years. Since its move to Charlottesville, it has become the largest educational travel company in the United States and one of the largest private employers based in the Charlottesville area. [4].

WorldStrides's current position in Charlottesville places it strategically between Washington, D.C. and Williamsburg, two popular destinations for those looking to tour monuments and historical sites[4].


WorldStrides consists of four main divisions, announced in summer 2011 as a major rebranding for the company.[9]

WorldStrides DiscoverNow! programs

WorldStrides DiscoverNow! programs are history, science, and career-focused programs in destinations like Washington, D.C., New York City, Williamsburg, California, Florida, and Costa Rica.

WorldStrides Heritage Performance programs

WorldStrides Heritage Performance programs are performing trips for high school bands, choirs, orchestras, marching bands, and dance and cheer teams. Destinations include a variety of college bowl games, Carnegie Hall, and music festivals around the United States.

WorldStrides Capstone programs

WorldStrides Capstone programs are custom global programs for graduate and undergraduate students. These programs are customized for each business or professional school. Options offered include business meeting planning, visa support, and custom planning services.

WorldStrides International Division

WorldStrides International Division is made up of Casterbridge Tours and NETC. These companies, acquired by WorldStrides in 2011 and 2012, respectively, create global programs for high school, church, and alumni groups.

Special Programs Operated by WorldStrides

Special Programs operated by WorldStrides include specialized travel experiences such as the American High School Theatre Festival, International Collegiate Theatre Festival, Boy Scouts of America Jamboree, Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD), and the Center for Civic Education. New Worlds Emerge programs for individual high school travelers visit destinations like Europe and China.



  2. Web. Charlottesville-based WorldStrides files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, Staff reports, News Article, Daily Progress, July 21, 2020, retrieved July 21, 2020.
  3. Web. Charlottesville-based WorldStrides files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, Staff reports, News Article, Daily Progress, July 21, 2020, retrieved July 21, 2020.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 Web. About Worldstrides, Worldstrides, retrieved December 12, 2011.
  5. Web. WorldStrides at 50: A local company with global reach, Josh Mandell, Charlottesville Tomorrow, March 26, 2017, retrieved March 29, 2017.
  6. Web. The Carlyle Group Makes Majority Investment in Student Travel Organization, WorldStrides, October 5, 2011, retrieved August 8, 2012.
  7. Web. Charlesbank Capital Partners Acquires WorldStrides, BusinessWire, January 4, 2006, retrieved August 7, 2012.
  8. Web. Economic Development News - November-December 2011, City of Charlottesville, retrieved December 12, 2011.
  9. Web. WorldStrides Announces Rebranding of Divisions, PR Web, August 17, 2011, retrieved August 8, 2012.

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