Making A Difference: Olivia Wilde Co-Founds Free Haitian High School

August 15, 2012 By:
Making A Difference: Olivia Wilde Co-Founds Free Haitian High School

Olivia Wilde has some serious names on her speed dial and it’s all in the name of charity.

The Change Up actress is going the distance with her philanthropy to reach those most in need. Her current project is a high school in Haiti that she co-founded as a major step in the fight against global poverty.

In an interview in Condé Nast Traveler's annual "Visionaries" issue, Wilde opened up about the impact of her project and how it all came to be.

“I just had a great conversation with Bill Gates,” she tells Condé Nast Traveler in the September issue. 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.’”

On a trip to Cité Soleil in 2009, Wilde first caught a glimpse at the country’s intense need, where she encountered poverty like she had never seen before. Still, there was no denying the natural beauty that exists on the Caribbean island country.

“Haiti is also so beautiful—it’s important to remember that it’s not just about tragedy,” she says.

Wilde returned to Port-au-Prince in the spring of 2012 with a mission and co-founded the Academy of Peace and Justice, Haiti’s first free secondary school. The academy was constructed in two short months and is run by the St. Luke Foundation for Haiti.

In October 2012, 1,200 students are expected to enroll, many of whom are from Cité Soleil, one of the country’s poorest slums.

“We started so small,” says Wilde. “This is such a grand gesture.”

In classrooms, nameplates carry a long list of Wilde’s fellow celebrity philanthropists, including Barbra Streisand, Sean Parker, Daniel Craig, Penélope Cruz, and Russell Crowe, who she co-starred with recently in the film The Next Three Days. The nameplates symbolize an annual support pledge of $70,000.

Along with helping those in need, Wilde hopes the move will inspire a new generation of activists.

“I’m really excited about the next generation,” she says. “Philanthropy is no longer just for the rich.”

You can donate to the Academy of Peace and Justice by visiting