Olivia Wilde: Co-Founder of Haiti’s New Free High School


Garnering herself a little recognition after helping to launch Haiti’s first free high school, Olivia Wilde nabbed a feature in the September 2012 issue of Condé Nast Traveler magazine as one of its “12 Remarkable Global Citizens.”

The 28-year-old actress could be seen interacting with children both in and outside of the classroom for the Frank Ockenfels shot pictorial while opening up about her philanthropic work in Haiti.


Actress and co-founder of a free high school in Haiti.


At 28, she sits at the grown-ups’ table of philanthropy, using her hip status to inspire a new generation to fight for the poor.


By Frank Ockenfels with kids in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on April 28, 2012.

The Story

“I just had a great conversation with Bill Gates,” says Olivia Wilde, laughing at the improbability of that. But the truth is, these days the actress is rubbing elbows with philanthropic heavyweights from Bill Clinton to George Clooney, and of course Mr. Gates. She asked him for advice on how best to focus her efforts beyond Haiti, perhaps as a UN ambassador: “He said, ‘No, invest your time in Haiti and know your subject well.’ ”

When Wilde returned to Port-au-Prince this past spring, there was tangible evidence of her commitment: the Academy for Peace and Justice, the first free secondary school in the country. With funds raised by Artists for Peace and Justice, the school was built by Haitians in just two months and is run by the St. Luke Foundation for Haiti, which has operated in the country for 25 years. In October, 1,200 students are expected to be enrolled, most from Cité Soleil, the poorest slum. “We started so small,” says Wilde, “and this is such a grand gesture.” Classrooms carry name plates: Russell Crowe, Daniel Craig, Barbra Streisand, Sean Parker, Penélope Cruz—all of whom made pledges of support of $70,000 a year, usually for seven years. Wilde hopes to spark young activists. “I’m really excited about the next generation,” she says. “Philanthropy is no longer just for the rich.”

The Big Trip

“Cité Soleil in 2009. I had never seen poverty like that. But Haiti is also so beautiful—it’s important to remember that it’s not just about tragedy.”


Donate at apjnow.org.

For the original report go to http://www.cntraveler.com/ecotourism/2012/09/visionaries/olivia-wilde?intcid=trail_hp#slide=2

4 thoughts on “Olivia Wilde: Co-Founder of Haiti’s New Free High School

  1. The first free secondary school in Haiti? Really? What do they think lycées are? There might not be enough of them, but to say this is the first free high school in Haiti is atrocious reporting.

    1. Salut Nadève: That detail also caught my eye. Originally, I read it as being a “Free School” type of high school rather than free of charge, but upon a second look (and after perusal of a few other press releases). . . you’re right. So far, I have heard contradictory information on the Lycées d’Enseignement Secondaire. Some stated that the lycées are less expensive than private but not free; others said that the education is free but students must pay fees for books and other materials. . . It would be nice to receive further clarification. As always, thanks for your comments. Ivette

  2. Hi Ivette… It’s my understanding that the fees (which were minimal) have been waived the last two years. Public school students around the world are responsible for certain materials — more or less depending on the country. But a public school is still free. I’m just frustrated by the number of articles celebrating the “first” something in Haiti. I recently read one stating we had only one nursing school. There are not enough eye rolls in the world!

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