Foundations Program Description

Program Description

Building on Taproot’s principles of nonviolent communication and unconditional positive regard, Taproot Foundations is an eleven-month program that will introduce and explore a variety of topics to help students advance their understanding of self-knowledge and self-care.

We will approach this in a variety of ways, with a heavy emphasis on experiential learning: group activities, monthly 1:1s with teachers, small group and whole group discussions, games, videos, podcasts, and occasional articles or books. We will introduce a topic monthly, lead activities and discussions, and provide relevant materials to support learning of the topic. A framework of experimentation will help students learn what works for them and what doesn’t, and to keep and build upon the things that work.

We believe it is important the program span the school year to provide the continuity of support, learning, and community during such an important and often challenging period in young people’s lives.There is an arc to this curriculum that builds upon itself over the course of the year, but, importantly, we have left flexibility to ensure we can address the most pressing topics for this cohort. Often these align with what we have outlined, but just as often, as we get to know a group we feel the need to shift the order of some things or make bigger adjustments based on the group’s needs at that time.

Our vision is to create a safe, curious community of peers and mentors who begin to develop a strong sense of self and goals, the tools to discover how to structure their days and choices in support of those goals, and how to support each other and their broader communities through listening, leadership, and good works.

This program is available to incoming highschool freshmen through seniors.


We plan to cover one main topic or theme each month and will introduce potential tools, resources, and, on occasion, out of class activities to support the group and individual learning. We will introduce and revisit these topics iteratively, but each of these larger themes will have a month of dedicated, deeper focus. There is also a bit of a seasonality to the curriculum, as we have tried to think about school year opportunities, challenges, and scaffolds accordingly.  The topics we will introduce are:

  • Observation & Awareness (July)
  • Self-Care and Experiments (August)
  • Values & Your Best Self (September)
  • Goals (October)
  • Gratitude (November)
  • Community (December)
  • Intro to Meditation (Break)
  • Meditation and Mindfulness (January)
  • Mindfulness and Experiments (February)
  • Flow (March)
  • Energy & Time (April)
  • Authentic Self & Self Actualization (May)


Foundations will meet in a variety of formats to support optimal individual and group learning.  Non-overnight months have a time commitment of approximately 10 hours. Overnight months are a bit more, with a time commitment of approximately 22 hours, the bulk of which are with the overnight.

  • Weekly Message: Each Sunday, Elesa and Zac will send out a note to the group covering important upcoming dates or activities and also something for the kids to observe, think about, or try for the week. We might include a podcast, article, and/or book recommendation for those who want to go deeper, but there is no expectation for kids to take these on; they are purely optional.
  • First Sunday of the month: The group will meet from 4-6 p.m. for an outdoor activity and discussion. In this session we will introduce a main topic for the month.
  • Third Sunday of the month: The group will meet from 2-6 p.m. for a volunteering activity, outdoor activity, and group discussion.  We will revisit the month’s topic and build upon it.


We will host five group overnights over the course of the program. These overnights are clustered toward the beginning and end of the program. These give us an opportunity to go deeper on certain topics and strengthen our connections with each other. Activities will vary for each overnight but will include a combination of team building, outdoor activities and exploration, relaxation and mindfulness, awesome healthy food, discussion, and practice with outdoor camping. We will often have guest instructors join us during the overnights. The overnight dates are:

  • 11 a.m. 7/1 to 11 a.m. 7/2, Harvest Preserve
  • 1 p.m. 9/16 to 1 p.m. 9/17, Wapsi Y Camp
  • 1 p.m. 10/14 to 11 a.m. 10/15, Harvest Preserve
  • 1 p.m. 4/20 to 1 p.m. 4/21, Wapsi Y Camp
  • 11 a.m. 5/25 to 2 p.m. 5/26, Harvest Preserve
  • June 29-July 3 Foundations Kickoff Camp (Times and Locations TBD)
  • 1 p.m. 9/14 to 1 p.m. 9/15 Wapsie Y Camp
  • 1 p.m. 10/19 to 11 a.m. 10/20 Harvest Preserve
  • 1 p.m. 4/19 to 1 p.m. 4/20 Wapsie Y Camp
  • 11 a.m. 5/24 to 2 p.m. 5/25 Location TBD

For the Wapsi overnights, we will meet at Harvest Preserve at the Wapsi dates’ start time and drive from there, e.g. on 9/16 your student should arrive at Harvest Preserve by 1 p.m. and we’ll return to Harvest Preserve by 1 p.m. on Sunday.

Monthly 1:1s

Students meet 1:1 with a teacher to discuss their goals, experiments, observations, and any challenges they’re experiencing. Students will draft an agenda for this meeting and will commit to actions in support of their values and goals at the end of each of these sessions. Whenever possible these sessions will be conducted outdoors, and ideally would include some walking element, unless the weather is prohibitive or the student is injured.These sessions are 45 minutes in length and will be scheduled at standing times each month between teachers and students.


We don’t plan on asking kids to do a lot of writing, reading, or other “work” outside of our meeting times, but we imagine (hope!) they will be thinking about what we discuss quite often and applying it to their lives.

We know kids this age have a lot of demands on them, and we don’t want to be an activity that adds stress or burden. That said, in addition to the meeting times we’ve listed, kids will likely spend 30-60 minutes a week journaling, reading the weekly emails, or documenting in some other way about how they’re feeling, what they’re thinking about, what they might want to learn more about.

Community and Volunteering

Volunteering is an important element of Taproot Foundations. Over the course of the year we will have a structured group volunteering activity once a month, and we’ll also share many other opportunities for volunteering outside of the Foundations group activities. Some of these opportunities will be with Taproot, but many will be in support of other local, like-minded non-profits, each with their own needs and opportunities for learning. Students pursuing a silver cord can expect to earn 30 volunteer hours through their year with Taproot Foundations; those going to Ecuador will earn an additional 20 hours.


Foundations participants in good standing are eligible to register for our Ecuador Spring Break Trip. This trip will give students exposure to a different culture in an incredibly diverse environment situated on Ecuador’s Pacific Coast. Students will participate in group learning activities, community volunteer work, land restoration, bamboo structure building, yoga, surfing, hiking, fishing, cooking classes, Ecuadorian beach games like Equavolly, and conversational Spanish lessons. The deadline for registration for this trip is 10/1/24.


2024/2025 Foundations is $3500 for the 11 month program, which includes the four-day sleepaway Foundations Kickoff Camp June 29-July 3, 2024.

We require a $500 deposit at the time of registration. Parents may pay the tuition in full when registering or make monthly payments.

If these options do not work for you, but you are still interested in having your child participate, please contact Zac via email at to discuss other options.