Community Core founder, Rob Gallo’s path from teenager growing up in Washington Heights in New York City to leader in experiential education is one of adventure and personal conviction. Rob has consciously dedicated his career to working to build authentic youth leadership in summer camps and schools--both public and independent, and with the adult leaders and teachers of these young people. 

While the environments in schools and summer camps are decidedly different; there are common threads. Rob and his team have found that students desire the same thing, someone to engage them on the issues that truly affect their lives every day. Understanding the social and emotional world that young people inhabit is the first step to cultivating their complete growth.


Building Community

Positive Self-Esteem

Healthy Peer Relationships


These are the currency of the Social-Emotional Literacy training center at Driftwood Ranch Camp. Over the last 12 years, participants of all ages and backgrounds have taken part in intensive, meaningful activities and workshops to identify, discuss and practice these life skills. With a dedicated staff, a clear mission, and a one-of-a-kind experiential curriculum involving horse round-penning, the Community Core approach at Driftwood has inspired young people and their adult leaders to find a new vision to face the comprehensive problem that faces us as educators, parents, and students. Over the course of a few days at Driftwood, students from all backgrounds who arrived appearing to be unengaged, shut-down, nervous, cliquish, and skeptical found themselves sitting around the evening fire circles, sharing their joy, their fears, and their hopes, because they were embraced in an authentic culture that respected their deeper needs.

Sounds like a really nice PLACE, right?

At Driftwood, students were in a community that consciously put in place incentives for healthy behaviors. This was not the environment they rejoined at school. At school, the metrics of success were detached from one’s ability to care for the community. One can gain social capital at school by bullying. One can earn the honor and recognition of valedictorian by earning excellent grades, regardless of character. So, in this environment, why would a student say the unpopular thing? Why stand up for the bullied? Why evaluate others on the strength of their character? Parents, often in passing, said, “Why can’t the Driftwood model exist in schools?”


A week at camp is not enough. An assembly once a semester is not enough. The solution must be as broad and all-encompassing as the issue at hand.  Community Core was created to provide focused training, support, and curriculum to educators who want to bring these values back to school.  Working with each school's unique mission and principles, we train educators how to teach the essential soft-skills and life tools needed to make their missions truly come alive. 

We have students as captive audiences 6-8 hours a day at school and yet some students will go years without having a conversation about self-esteem, being inclusive, and how their actions affect a community. Students inhabit a world that is parallel to but hidden from the view of the faculty and administration. They navigate social obstacles, struggle with the emotional transition from child to young adult, and suffer and celebrate setbacks and triumphs without the guidance of those who have been through it all before them.

Many would say that this is not the job of schools; that there is not the time, the expertise or the will to take on this task.

Rob Gallo and the Community Core team are determined to push forward a new vision for schools' role in teaching and upholding the social-emotional tools needed for students to truly achieve success outside the classroom walls.

Community Core was created to overcome these obstacles and to give schools the confidence to take charge of cultivating not just writers and mathematicians but whole-hearted young people with the soft-skills and social-emotional literacy needed to be compassionate leaders and engaged, productive community members.