In the early 1960’s, Father Fritz Lafontant began working in Haiti's Central Plateau after identifying the need for basic social services in the region. It was the construction of a dam in the area that captured Father Lafontant's attention: in a bid to bring electricity to Haiti's Capital, Port-au-Prince, the dam was built, flooding villages and erasing livelihoods. The population had to abandon their land, houses, and farms in order to survive while any remnants of health, educational or social services were wiped out.
Father Fritz established the first community schools at Chapoteau, Bel-Air, and Cayes Epin. With the support of Zanmi Lasante (Partners in Health) and its community health workers, he was supporting 19 community schools across the Central Plateau by the end of the 1970's.
Initially, classes were held under trees, or shelters, and children traveled kilometers on foot to seek instruction. Today, these founding schools have been rebuilt, many of them with the support of Zanmi Lasante, the Digicel Foundation, the Diocese of South Carolina, as well as other partners.
Father Fritz was soon joined by his daughter Marie Flore Chipps. Together, they devoted their lives to building and supporting education initiatives across the Central Plateau. By 2007, the network had swelled to 41 schools serving nearly 10,000 students.
Even in retirement, Father Fritz's legacy continues today. In 2014, Marie Flore joined forces with entrepreneurs Paul English and Mike Chambers to build Summits Education, a new organization devoted exclusively to securing partnerships and funding to support the network of school's Father Fritz Lafontant worked tirelessly to create.