Summits Celebrates #GlobalHandwashingDay

Since 2010, thousands across Haiti have been affected by a devastating cholera outbreak. The epidemic originated in the Central Plateau, where all 41 of our primary schools are located.

This past week, Summits primary school Foyer des Enfants hosted a celebration for Jounen Mondyal Lave Men or Global Handwashing Day. Hosted by our partner Zanmi Lasante, Summits students were taught best sanitation practices in order to protect against cholera and other water and sanitation-related diseases.

Six Summits schools attended the big event which also included dancing, a talent show, and many rounds of musical chairs.

An Update on Hurricane Matthew



As Hurricane Matthew's impact on Haiti becomes more clear, we’ve heard from many of you asking about our team and the communities we serve in the Central Plateau. We’re grateful and moved by your thoughts and concerns.

Tucked in the mountains away from the coast, the Summits Network emerged relatively unharmed; seven of our schools suffered structural damage due to the hurricane’s heavy winds and rain. We’re working to address those needs thanks to the support of donors and the majority of our students returned to school this week.

Our thoughts are now are in Haiti’s Southwest, where entire cities have been leveled and where the death toll continues to rise. 

Summits is directing supporters to Partners in Health and the St. Boniface Haiti Foundation, two organizations that have worked to deliver high-quality health care in Haiti for decades. These organizations are mobilizing teams to address the most pressing needs in the areas most affected by Hurricane Matthew.

It has been difficult for our team to see another part of the country suffer from such immense destruction. While being careful not to inject ourselves in the middle of emergency efforts, our team is in the process of gathering supplies requested by relief organizations including food and cleaning supplies.

We’ve all struggled with feelings of helplessness.  The greatest comfort has come from the belief in the work we do; we are deeply committed to investing in long-term impact and development through the power of a high quality, holistic education.

This is just the beginning of a long recovery process. We hope your support of Haiti will continue beyond the immediate aftermath of this terrible disaster.

In solidarity,
Team Summits 

Celebrating Summits

Last week, we threw a HUGE party in the Central Plateau. Over 1,000 Summits students, teachers, community and family members assembled to celebrate our teachers and kick off the school year in style. There were fire-breathing clowns, breakdance battles, 100-degree temperatures, and amazingly – no thunderstorms! 

The celebration took place in Marouge on what will be the future site of Summits Academy, a teacher training facility and administrative hub for Summits and our partners in the Central Plateau. Community leaders, Summits teammates – including co-founders Marie Flore Chipps and Mike Chambers- along with partners and administrators welcomed and spoke to the crowd, congratulating them on their unwavering commitment to education.

The celebration also marked the first time our entire team was able to convene as one. Our 350 Summits educators and staff from both Boston and Haiti were able to celebrate the many successes of our young but mighty organization, together. 

Marie Flore, Cassandre, Ludji and the rest of the team in Haiti pulled together an absolutely momentous event. Everyone from the teachers we celebrated to the partners and guests we invited, to the students and families that scaled mountains to attend, had a blast.

We have big plans for the school year ahead and after this epic celebration, we know that together, anything is possible.

Help us make this school year the best one yet.

Summits Update: Looking to the Year Ahead

A few weeks ago, Summits closed the books on our first full fiscal year. While this was an exciting milestone, it is the academic year that most defines us. Right now, across Haiti, nearly 10,000 students in our network are standing on their tiptoes, preparing for the year ahead. 

Do you remember that feeling? As summer winds down and the reality of getting to be a whole-grade-older settles in? Do you remember how many worlds apart eighth grade was from seventh?

Like children all over the world, Summits students are a mix of nervous and excited, wondering, ‘Do I have the right books? Will I know where to sit? Am I ready for this leap?’

Their teachers also feel the burden of possibility. This past month, over 350 Summits educators convened for an intensive training institute, many sharing the same trepidation as their students for the school year ahead, wondering: ‘Can I prepare this generation of students to surpass my own?’

At Summits, our work is to answer all of these hopeful questions with a resounding yes. Yes, you have what you need to succeed in school this year: as a student, as a teacher, as a community. 

What started as a vision to build a secondary school has grown into an organization leading the effort to develop a model for the Haitian education system. You made this possible through your advice, your partnership, and your investment in Summits Education. Thank you. 

Powered by your generosity, there are many bright spots from the past year: 

  • In September of 2015, Summits adopted a network of 41 primary schools serving nearly 10,000 students and employing over 350 educators. Elevating the quality of learning in these schools is our top priority. 
  • Summits received a grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, enabling us to develop a coalition to plan a Model School District in Haiti’s Central Plateau. 
  • Summits joined forces with the Haitian Ministry of Education. Their pledge to subsidize costs associated with our schools is a major step towards creating a sustainable model for the Haitian education system.
  • Summits secured 23 acres of land in Marouge, Haiti - the future site of Summits Academy.
  • Summits launched a partnership with InnovEd, a teacher training institute at Quisqueya University. Through InnovEd, each Summits teacher, school director, and supervisor will participate in 250 hours of professional development. The initial reviews are in, and our educators are raving about their experience.

In the spirit of spreading excitement for the coming school year, here is a preview of our upcoming plans:

  • In January 2017, Summits will launch our Whole Child Pilot Program in the 10 Summits schools nearest PIH’s University Hospital of Mirebalais. In these schools, we will implement a comprehensive set of programs to ensure students are healthy, safe, supported, engaged and challenged. This pilot will allow Summits to prove the efficacy of our highly collaborative and holistic approach to education.
  • In partnership with the University of Notre Dame and Catholic Relief Services, Summits educators will be trained to implement an intensive early grade reading intervention to drastically boost the reading and writing skills of our students. 
  • With Zanmi Lasante leading the effort, twelve of our schools will receive new handwashing stations, bathrooms, and sanitation and hygiene training for students. 
  • In early 2017, we will break ground on a teacher training facility which will serve as the center of teaching excellence for the Summits network. Over time, this space will serve as a cafeteria and auditorium for Summits Academy. We have raised just over half of the one million dollars needed to complete this facility. 
  • This fall, Summits will join Tracy Kidder on the A Truck Full of Money book tour to expand our community and audience. Stay tuned for more on events near you!

At Summits, we believe that education has the power to transform societies. Our programs and our partners are united by a collective goal: to raise the standards of academic rigor for both students and teachers, empowering a future generation of changemakers in Haiti and beyond. 

Together, we're laying a foundation of transformative opportunities for Haiti’s most vulnerable students.

Let’s move mountains.


Mike Chambers
Co-founder and Executive Director, Summits Education 

Putting #TeachersFirst: An Incredible Summer with InnovEd

In March, we launched Summits with a campaign focused on the transformative power of teachers. We asked our community for help fund a teacher training institute for the 350 educators in our network and in less than three months, we raised over $130,000 for this critical program, together.

During the month of August, we saw this dream become a reality as we welcomed groups of educators from across the Central Plateau to three, week-long programs as part of InnovEd's intensive Summer Institute.

The enthusiasm was palpable from the start. Each morning, teachers started the day together, in one big circle under the morning sun. Lead by group leaders, our teachers sang songs and voiced affirmations in order to motivate each other and set a positive tone for the day of training ahead. The nervous energy of Monday quickly turned into an eruption of renewed energy and meaningful connection by Friday.

The central focus of the week was to introduce educators to the concept of the Lèkol Vivan or The Vibrant School. By blending pedagogical theory and participatory learning, the Vibrant School approach seeks to equip educators with the skills necessary to transform traditional schools into active, nurturing learning environments. Teachers attended workshops on increasing student engagement and participation and on using the natural environment as a tool for teaching.

InnovEd presents a learner-centered curriculum that challenges teachers and students to work together to achieve high impact growth; a holistic approach that builds an active school culture inside and outside the classroom.

This style is unlike traditional approaches to education in Haiti. Traditionally, classrooms depend on rote style instruction and memorization. As Summits first grade teacher Madeleine Jean put it,

Before, the way I taught—without this training—was not the same. In the morning, we would just go into the classroom, pray, and start working. Now thanks to InnovEd and Summits it’s not going to be the same. We are going to keep the children’s attention. From now on we are going to apply the right activities that will inspire students to work together.

We’ve been inspired by InnovEd’s dedication to improving teacher quality and student achievement across Haiti and this year's Summer Institute is just the beginning of our partnership. Over the next two years, the InnovEd team with continue to work with our teacher trainers, administrators, and teachers, offering ongoing professional development and training throughout the year.

Through your support of Teachers First, you made this incredible summer happen. Thanks to you, our educators are starting the school year stronger than ever!

Building Vibrant Schools with InnovEd

What is a lékol vivan - a vibrant school?

Last week in Port-au-Prince, eight Summits supervisors participated in the first intensive training sessions with InnovEd-UniQ, our teacher training partners. The week focused on developing the skills and techniques necessary to build lékol vivans - schools that inspire, challenge, and support students through high quality teaching and engagement.

These supervisors are integral to our network of 41 primary schools in the Central Plateau. Each supervisor is assigned four schools to work with throughout the school year, providing professional support to improve teacher capacity, measure success, and increase student outcomes. 

Our approach is inspired by the Partners in Health Community Health Workers program, a system created in the very same rural communities we work with in Haiti. The program is designed to accompany the country’s existing health care system by training health workers to visit patient at home in order to connect them with the care, hospitals, and clinics necessary to ensure healthier lives and communities.

In the education sphere, we imitate this successful approach through the work of our Summits supervisors. The approach is designed to buttress the work of the Ministry of Education and its strategic goals to improve teacher quality and increase student achievement.

The week focused on increasing student engagement through participatory games and practical, field-tested techniques. The supervisors were also coached in data driven strategies and action plans in order to develop strong school-community relations.

We’re incredibly lucky to be partnering with InnovEd-UniQ. With its core values of engagement, connection, challenge, and reflection, we’re building lékol vivants across the Central Plateau.

Supervisor Fritz Andre put it best: “Together with InnovEd and Summits, we can do a better job in every school with the principal and help them train the students for a society we dream about.”

With the skills learned in Port au Prince, supervisors will return to the Central Plateau energized and focused on the school year ahead.

An Entrepreneur's Approach to Philanthropy

On July 7th in downtown Boston, in front of a crowd of entrepreneurs, designers and engineers, Summits co-founder Paul English chatted with Founder Collective’s Eric Paley about his experiences as an entrepreneur and philanthropist. A well known tech founder and investor, Paul has also been involved in the nonprofit sector for over 20 years and opened up to the audience about the passion behind starting Summits.

Paul’s foray into philanthropy, after early successes in tech, was fostered by Paul’s late friend and mentor, Tom White, who built J.F. White Construction, one of the largest construction companies in New England. When they reconnected after meeting when Paul was a child, Tom was 80 and broke, having donated his fortune, primarily to help the homeless in Boston. He helped Paul formulate and hone his desire to do good in the world by introducing him to two people, one a homeless person in Roxbury and the other in a medical clinic in rural Haiti. “Tom wanted me to see suffering face to face, and then together, we strategized how I could be the most helpful, both from writing checks as well as applying leadership skills I have from creating help them in ways that are not just financial," Paul remembers.

Paul’s hopes to follow in his mentor’s footsteps by slowly increasing the amount he gives to charity every year until he has “liquidated all my wealth through philanthropy by the age of 80.” He believes that “it is unconscionable not to give,”  and that everyone should find an organization they believe in and give by “writing the check and asking questions later.”

Check out the video above to hear more about Paul’s journey. Huge thanks to City Awake, General Assembly, and WeWork for a great evening.

A Wedding in Bernaco

This past weekend Summits co-founder Marie Flore and Father Fritz Lafontant, along with our new creative content producer Jessica Obert, attended the wedding of Wilfred Philatre and Wilna Pierre. Wilfred is the principal of L'Ecole Bernaco, a Summits primary school tucked in a valley outside Thomonde. The school also acted as the wedding venue.

Wilfred grew up in Bernaco and went to secondary school in Thomonde. Proving to be a dedicated and successful student, our partners Zanmi Lasante sponsored him to go college to study education. After graduation, Wilfred was offered a position to become an inspector for the state at Hinche, but turned it down, determined to return home.

At the wedding, in a speech to his new bride and the family and friends assembled, Wilfred said, "I am the product of Bernaco. I want to be a model for the youth and for the community."

Summits schools are truly the heart of the communities we serve. We're thrilled to have been able to celebrate Wilfred and Wilna!

Meet Summits Teacher Michelet Houpette

This story comes to us from Esther Ro, our Creative Content Producer in Haiti. Esther has spent the last three months rolling around the Central Plateau with her trusty camera meeting the teachers, students, and communities that make up our network of schools. 

The first thing Michelet Houpette does when he wakes up each morning is review the lesson plan for the day. On the agenda today is practicing algebraic inequalities, introducing new French vocabulary, writing exercises in Creole, and a hygiene and health review. After refreshing his notes, Michelet quickly showers and eats a plate of spaghetti - a Haitian breakfast favorite - before making the journey to Ecole Bon Samaritain de Sarazin.

Click here to see a map of the places Michelete has lived, worked and studied.

The school, located in the rural village of Guindette, is roughly seven miles from Michelet’s uncle’s home in Lascahobas, a sizable market town in the Central Plateau. Michelet sleeps here most nights instead of at his childhood home in Loncy, a neighboring village that is 20 minutes from the main road. By 7:10 a.m., Michelet is out the door and walking towards the heart of the Lascahobas where he catches a ride on a tap-tap, the name of the colorful pickup trucks and buses that serve as public transportation in Haiti. The ride costs 50 gourde, or just under one US dollar. Some days, if the fare is hard to procure, Michelet finds a way to get to school, whether it’s by borrowing a relative’s motorcycle or walking part of the distance. Principal Thomas Benjamin remembers one time Michelet pedaled to school on a bicycle, “smiling, his forehead shining with perspiration.”

“Michelet is one of the best, one of the most devoted teachers I know,” says Principal Benjamin.


“Michelet is one of the best and one of the most devoted teachers I know,” says Principal Benjamin. “He has a gift of encouraging others and is extremely selfless, bringing new ideas and suggestions to better our school.”

Michelet’s fourth grade class consists of 86 students, so roll call is a lengthy ordeal. When every student is accounted for, he marks the tally in the top lefthand corner of the blackboard for Principal Thomas’s official record. With a firm but friendly voice, Michelet begins the day’s lessons. Bright, wide eyes follow his movements up and down and across the room. Hands wave excitedly in the air and a chorus of enthusiastic voices respond to questions posed to the class. One by one, students come forth to solve equations or conjugate verbs on the blackboard and correct each other’s mistakes. Before introducing the next subject, Michelet gets everyone’s blood pumping by leading them in a hyperactive sequence of head bobbing, arm waving and leg shaking that evokes smiles and giggles from even the most reserved students.


The dismissal bell rings at one p.m. sharp, but Michelet’s work isn’t over yet. Three days a week, he gives additional math, French and Creole lessons to an advanced group of pre-teens in Lascahobas. Given his commitment to education, it’s hard to believe that Michelet fell into this profession almost by accident.

“When I was young, I never thought I’d be a teacher,” Michelet said. “I was nervous because I didn’t think it would be easy to change careers, but I have learned to be flexible.”

After completing secondary school, Michelet enrolled at Université Polyvalente D’Haiti in Port- au-Prince as an accounting student. Due to financial troubles, however, he was unable to complete his degree and returned to his home in the countryside, where he picked up a teaching assistant position as a way to earn some money.

Two years later, Michelet was offered a formal job at Sarazin. In order to become a more effective teacher, he completed a training program with the Digicel Foundation and earned a certificate in education last year. Michelet is also a member in the first cohort of Anseye Pou Ayiti, Teach for All’s Haitian network, through which he receives additional support, resources and individualized coaching.

When he’s not teaching, Michelet tends to a modest peanut farm and to his livestock, a young goat and a pig, to supplement his teacher’s salary and take care of his mother. Before dinner, he’ll play a round of basketball with friends or nap. Occasionally during the weekends, Michelet gathers his leadership committee comprised of seven students to brainstorm, organize and execute community service projects.

“Education is critical in this moment,” Michelet says. “Right now, Haiti has a weak education system, but together, we can change that.”

Michelet also spends a great amount of time expanding his own knowledge. He is currently a law student at a public college in Gonaive and spends half of his weeknights poring over case studies and legal texts. (“I had an exam last week. I’m waiting for the results, but I feel good,” he shares.) One evening is devoted to theology, and the remaining days are spent studying pedagogy as he hopes to eventually be able to train future teachers.

“Education is critical in this moment,” Michelet says. “Right now, Haiti has a weak education system, but together, we can change that."

Thanks to our donors, teachers in the Summits network like Michelet receive innovative training, ongoing professional development, and competitive wages.