Haiti’s First Free Secondary School to Expand, With Hollywood Support


Above: the Academy for Peace and Justice

By the Caribbean Journal staff

Construction at Haiti’s first free secondary school is now slated to begin, thanks to an $800,000 grant from Artists for Haiti.

The organization, which was founded by actor Ben Stiller and art dealer David Zwirner, has given the grant to Artists for Peace and Justice, which will add a new wing of 24 classrooms to the Academy for Peace and Justice, the country’s first free secondary school, which opened in 2010.

“We are excited to support Artists for Peace and Justice in their efforts to improve and expand opportunities for education in Haiti,” Stiller said.

The funds were raised at an auction in 2011 featuring works by contemporary artists.

“The generous donations by 26 great artists for this auction sent a vital message to Haiti that not only can it count on the support of this field, but that art remains a central part of its identity.”

Artists for Peace and Justice was founded by writer and director Paul Haggis, who is also the chairman of its board of directors.

The school, which opened just a few months after the devastating January 2010 earthquake in Haiti, was designed, built and is run entirely by Haitians.

It currently has a total of 800 students in grades seven and eight. The new classrooms will mean another 800 students in grades nine and 10.

“Before the earthquake, Haiti was already in desperate need of help,” Haggis said. “Today, those needs are exponentially greater. Promises of foreign aid were never kept and some of the biggest charities still have most of the money they raised in the bank, while they wait for the perfect conditions for investment to somehow magically appear. Artists for Haiti stepped into this void and is acting quickly to make a real difference.”

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