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Study Abroad, Kalu Yala, and a Federal Financial Aid Scam?
Linda@stancoinsider.com
Over 4,000 miles away in Panama’s Tres Brazos rainforest, construction is underway to build a jungle town.  At first glance Kalu Yala looks like paradise with thatch roofed huts, a farm to table kitchen, a large garden and running water. Jimmy and his father  Sandy Stice are real estate developers from Atlanta Georgia and Kalu Yala is a for profit business designed to make millions off the $200,000 homes they plan to build and sell on the 7,000 acres they own of lush green rainforest.
Kalu Yala is a study abroad program that college students apply to. Tuition per semester is currently $6500 to $7,000  and can be paid for with federal financial aid, or out of your own pocket.  Once accepted, students live, work and study on the premises through The Kalu Yala Institute. There are 3 semesters a year. Each semester costing $500 more then the last. Students also receive college credit from the college or university they attend in the US.  Students are required to work clearing land and building the infrastructure needed to build Sticetown and American tax dollars are paying for what some have called ‘slave labor’.
The Kalu Yala Institute sits directly in the middle of Kalu Yala which allows anyone to start a business and have full access to student interns for business support, their expertise, to troubleshoot, test products, etc.  One of the start ups is called  ‘Media Arts.’ - “a living laboratory in the middle of the jungle.” The founder and CEO of  ‘Media Arts’ is Carly Schwartz. Carly Schwartz has been involved with Kalu Yala and founder Jummy Stice since the beginning in 2010. She's now started her own Study Abroad program on the same Property as Kalu Yala. She was social media manager, campaign manager, and press secretary for Governor Jerry Browns 2010 campaign.  She wrote for the Huffington Post where she took the time to write many articles for Governor Jerry Brown,  Lt Governor Gavin Newsom, Kalu Yala, and she founded the Huffington Post San Francisco bureau. She was aslo Editor and Chief of Google Insider. Carly worked for the now defunct Marin Alliance for Medical Marijuana and wrote a blog in support of marijuana. Media Arts charges over $5000 a semester to attend.
Kalu Yala has been captured on camera through a series called “Jungletown”.  VICELAND cameras followed a group of students in their daily routines and included footage of the onsite rum distillery. Kalu Yala is a place where homebrewed rum and what seems to be plenty of ganja allows for a free spirited display of  sometimes inappropriate and dangerous behavior. Markedly different from the typical rules and regulations underage students must adhere to in the US.  Kalu Yala doesn’t seem to discriminate. Stice doesn’t appear to be bothered with trivial things like round the clock drinking or drug use, his efforts are concentrated on selling Kalu Yala to investors at any cost.
 
 
Stice pays a staff to oversee a group of about 80 college students that are clearing the jungle to “build a sustainable modern village.”  Students actually believe they are there to build a sustainable village but on Jungletown students discuss that the word ‘sustainability’ had been removed from the Kalu Yala website. It was evident in the first few episodes ‘sustainability’ wasn’t currently an option.  Some claim they were misled and lied to. Several people that paid for internships out of their own pocket left Kalu Yalacalling Jimmy Stice and Kalu Yala a fraud.  Stice refused to give them back any of their money, telling them to go f--- themselves instead. This is certainly not the type of behavior one would expect from a CEO. CEO’s should model and set the values, and behavior of the organization they run. Kalu Yala brings in hundreds of thousands of dollars per semester, some of which is paid for with federal financial aid. American tax dollars.  Their website lists dozens of colleges and universities across the country that have sent students. Here’s a list in California.  California State University Fresno, San Francisco, Chico, Berkeley, Davis, Southern California, Long beach, and Santa Barbara.
Study abroad programs deserve scrutiny and oversight. In California that job belongs to the President of the UC System, Janet Napolitano and the Board of Regents that include Governor Jerry Brown and Lt Governor Gavin Newsom.  Kalu Yala is a private for profit business that is using federal financial aid, and student slave labor to build a town in the middle of jungle that is owned by real estate developers. There are too many conflicts of interest between those profitting and connected to Kalu Yala and the Governor and Lt Governor of California.
Here's a clip on Jungletown's distillery
Couple that left Kalu Yala calling Stice a fraud.