Straight, easily confirmed facts about Kalu Yala:

  • Kalu Yala has hosted over 700 students at our Institute since 2010. Anyone is free to contact us for a full list of our alumni to reach out to whomever you would like
  • 92% of students would recommend Kalu Yala to a friend. According to our alumni, we are one of the top ranked study abroad programs in the world.
  • You can see real reviews from each semester, both from staff and students, at these three websites:,, and
  • 97.5% of students successfully complete their semester at Kalu Yala.
  • Our instructors are all passionate about the environment, sharing their knowledge, and making the world a better place. They have lectured at top universities, served in the Peace Corps, sold companies they founded, published books, and managed to forge careers that align with their values.
  • At $7,495 for all instruction, room and board, and project materials, Kalu Yala cost well below half the average of comparable study abroad programs.
  • Our carbon footprint per capita, including everyone's flights, is only 8% compared to the average American.
  • There are a small number of negative things written about us online by people who have never been to Kalu Yala, met our team or students, the 400+ children we teach in public schools, or our local neighbors. These people were misinformed by a reality TV show we made the mistake of allowing to be made after producers said they wanted to help our mission.
  • It's fairly easy to tell which comments were written by people who have been here versus those who haven't, especially by looking at the date of the post, since almost nothing negative was written about us until May 2017 after 7 years of already being in business. There are only 2 negative reviews online that we think are written by real alumni...out of the 700+ who have attended.
23 successful semesters to date
Over 700 students from...
30 Countries and all 50 states
of alumni would recommend
positive reviews on
of alumni return as staff members
of students drop out

Compared to global study abroad average of 5%.

So Why Is There Negative Stuff On the Internet?

Until March, 2017, no one had ever heard anything different than those facts.

Then VICE came to Kalu Yala and filmed a docu-series called “Jungletown.” It didn’t exactly go as planned.

The $3 billion company told us our environmental mission was just what they wanted to support. They filmed 1,400 hours of footage. They encouraged students to be angry instead of working things out. They needed a villain, so they edited our founder to come off as a rich jerk. And they cut all that footage down to 9 hours of television.

What we got was a reality show, which emphasized and exacerbated a melodrama that Kalu Yala never underwent before, or after, the film crew's presence (that’s over 7 years and 23 semesters).

The show sparked a lot of online controversy, particularly on Reddit, which is infamous as a breeding ground for trolls... only in this case those trolls are helping a huge company whose only goal is to make more ad dollars destroy a good small business trying to make the world a better place.

You may have come across some of the following claims while researching Kalu Yala. However, you may notice that almost none of them came from actual student alumni, current or former staff.

So, here are the facts:

The Claims VS. The Facts

Claim: Jimmy Stice, the founder of Kalu Yala, is rich.

Claim: Kalu Yala makes a lot of money.

Claim: Lots of students drop out of Kalu Yala.

Claim: Students pay to work for Kalu Yala.

Claim: Kalu Yala is not sustainable.

Claim: Kalu Yala students are rich, white, entitled millennials 

Claim: Kalu Yala is just modern neo-colonialism.

What Students Say

See more student reviews at,, and

“This experience is far superior to a typical study abroad because it allows the individual to control their own education. I gained unbelievable skills crucial for my development in business and was able to network with great people. Overall, this experience is enriching because of the people, the places, and the work we were doing in sustainability. I believe it is more rewarding than the typical study abroad in Europe.”

Bailey York
Business & Entrepreneurship Student

The best thing that Kalu Yala has done for me is giving me the time and space to be around people and ideas that have never made it into my life before. I have never been to a place that empowers young people like Kalu Yala. I'm so inspired everyday to see what all the young people coming through can do when you simply show them that you believe in their ideas and that they have your support. The ripple effect of this and what is happening here is radical and revolutionary. This is a place where people really try to embody the change that they want to see in the world.

Samantha Picker
Public Health and Wellness Student

What Parents Say

Are you a parent? Check out our Parents Guide to Kalu Yala.

"My daughter’s time at Kalu Yala introduced her to the knowledge, contacts, and confidence she needed to start a business in Panama. Though she left Kalu Yala after her semester, both the institute and Jimmy continued to be a resource for her, and have treated her as family. As a parent, it’s comforting to know my daughter has a growing community of passionate and ambitious people around the world she can rely on."

-Jeanie Stankovitch | Gainesville, Florida

"John having to create a project from scratch and follow it through to completion had the impact of teaching him what the real world was like while giving him the support of a school."  

-Lee Cook | Atlanta, Georgia

"Mary Ann is now living her dream of working in sales in the Napa Valley where she gets to be part of the agriculture business using her natural networking skills."

-Dot Turrentine | Elkin, North Carolina

Take a Peek Inside Our World...

Kalu Yala Students Respond to Jungletown

Clark Thompson | Kalu Yala Summer 2017 Student​

Building a New World in the Panamanian Jungle

What Took You So Long?

Inside the Kalu Yala Institute

Kalu Yala Staff

Have questions about Kalu Yala?

Email us at or schedule a call with our Director of Admissions, Matt Stice. Remember, we're here to help.