The Haiti School Project was created by Tim Myers and Fred Ireland after hearing a follow-up story on NPR’s Planet Money about a school building that was started in Villard, Haiti. The building of the school had stalled, literally, at the foundation stage. Tim and Fred had never met but heard the same story on NPR and wanted to help. They each independently contacted NPR asking if something more could be done. They were put in touch with each other and this was the genesis of The Haiti School Project.
Adam Davidson and Catlin Kenny of the Planet Money team went down to the L’Artibonite area of Haiti in the Spring of 2010 to do a story about a region of the country not directly affected by the earthquake yet deeply impacted by it nonetheless. The L’Artibonite area of the country grows and processes rice as its main agricultural product. After the earthquake, foreign aid brought in massive amounts of relief food to the country including significant quantities of rice. This effectively depressed the price of locally grown rice, putting an already fragile local economy under increased strain.
While in the area doing this story Adam and Caitlin met the principal of the L’Artibonite School in Villard. Classes at the school were being held in a church and even out of doors. The teachers were writing whole book lessons on blackboards because the students couldn’t afford books. The principal remarked that if he just had a little money to buy books and a few supplies things would be so much better for the children.
As a result of that story on June 15, 2010, NPR listeners donated $3,000 to the school–so much money that the principal felt there was enough to build an entire school building. Unfortunately, by the time the foundation was built the money for the entire project was used up and there was no apparent prospect for additional funding. NPR aired a second story about this outcome on November 30, 2010. The Haiti School Project was created to finish the school and establish a sustainable educational system for the students.
Where The Haiti School Project is Today
The Haiti School Project has accomplished a great deal in its short history and is in a good position to achieve its mission. We have gone from being a sponsored program of another non-profit in early 2011 to establishing our own non-profit corporation and have achieved federal recognition as a non-profit IRC Sec. 501(c)(3) entity in November 2011.
We have in place the following:
- Responsible governing body comprised of five board members that hold bi-weekly meetings via conference call
- Central communication and marketing hub at our website, www.haitischoolproject.org
- Efficient fundraising infrastructure via the website to solicit and receive donations
- Architectural and structural engineering firm donating their services to design a school building that will be economical to build, conducive to learning, and earthquake- and hurricane- resistant
- Ongoing relationship with National Public Radio in publicizing our efforts (see follow-up to the original story at NPR’s Planet Money site)
- Documentary film in production
Please help us by making a tax deductible donation on this website via the secure PayPal Haiti donation button.
Now that we accomplished our initial goal of building the school, we are focused on sustaining the Villard School’s future vitality and quality of education.
The Haiti School Project is a federally recognized non-profit IRC Sec. 501(c)(3) organization helping Haiti’s children supported entirely by volunteers.