Pulitzer Prize winning author Tracy Kidder released his latest biography, this time on Summits co-founder and entrepreneur Paul English. A Truck Full of Money tells the story of Paul’s adventures chasing and and ultimately navigating successes in the ambitious world of internet start-ups. Paul seeks to spend his fortune tackling global poverty in the same way he earned it: by identifying problems and investing in high impact solutions. Inspired by his mentor Tom White, Paul looks to work in Haiti and after many years of involvement in the global health juggernaut, Partners in Health, starts Summits Education with the goal to raise the standards of education in Haiti’s most impoverished region, the Central Plateau.
What’s happened since A Truck Full of Money
In researching his book, Tracy Kidder accompanied Paul on numerous trips to Haiti. No stranger to Haiti’s Central Plateau, where Tracy spent time writing Mountains Beyond Mountains, Tracy was present at the very beginning of Summits Education’s formation. In the two years since these initial trips, Summits Education has continued to grow and thrive with Paul English’s support and direction. Paul maintains an essential role at Summits, frequently weighing in on program design, spearheading fundraising activities, and serving as Chairman of the Board of Directors.
From Tracy Kidder:
“Over the past 30 years the organization Partners In Health has worked to improve public health and medicine in Haiti. I’ve had the great good fortune to witness some of the evolution of that remarkably effective work, and again, more recently, to be on hand to watch the creation of Summits Education.
It aims to begin a movement that will do for schooling what Partners In Health has begun to do for health: not to impose but to foster a vastly improved system of public education for Haiti, a system that will be truly indigenous, education for Haitians by Haitians.
The challenge is a big one. For centuries, most Haitians have been systematically deprived of the basic right to schooling, and this crime is far from having been redressed. Currently, many of Haiti’s teachers are poorly paid, and many don’t get paid on time, if they get paid at all. A lot of teachers never had the chance to get a proper education themselves, and are, through no fault of their own, poorly equipped to teach. Many rural schools in Haiti lack even a single bathroom, which guarantees, among other things, that girls will miss many days each month. Most of the children lucky enough to attend elementary school don’t go on to high school, and fewer than one percent of all Haitian children go to college.
Summits will begin its work at 41 existing elementary schools in the Central Plateau, one of the country’s most impoverished regions. It has already bought the land for a high school there. Paul English, one of the organization’s founders, has said he imagines a high school of the quality of his alma mater, The Boston Latin School. But Summits will begin with an emphasis on improving the education of the teachers in the schools it plans to help.
The United States bears a lot of the guilt for the ills that Haiti suffers. This new project could go some distance toward atonement. Haitians, especially the impoverished adults who never had the chance for school, thirst to provide education for their children. So Summits already has the most important ingredient for success, which is strong local support. Our support is all it needs now.” - Tracy Kidder, March 2016
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Get the bookmark
In anticipation of the book launch, Summits commissioned Haitian American artist Wendy Michel to create a bookmark showcasing its work in the Central Plateau. The result is a beautiful, informative piece that incorporates both information and original artwork inspired by the artist's reaction to the 2010 earthquake in Haiti.
Meet the Artist
Born in Port-Au-Prince, five year old Wendy “Darling” Michel and her family soared their way to the United States on a selection from the 1994 Visa Lottery. With an immense amount of ambition and drive, the family began their journeys to success. Flash forward to 2009, Darling starts her first online platform, Soo Ambitious. Working together with her founders, the team managed to provide year long video production and marketing resources to emerging artists. After the success of the blog, Darling decided to self-educate by traveling the world. Her ambitions led her to serve as a humanitarian and art curator in Germany, China and Hong Kong.
This breadth of experiences has influenced Wendy’s value’s in her heritage, faith and community, thus reflecting through her work as an educator, strategist, and visual artist. Now 24, Michel wraps up her Creative Business degree at Parsons in New York City while building her creative media agency: Dream Again.