I never have felt comfortable having a foundation named after me. Originally I asked if we could call it the LeBron James Foundation, or the Brad Pitt Foundation, since I thought that would get a lot more people to donate money. I was told I could get sued if I did that. So I went with the Stiller Foundation, since the point is to try to get as much or as little attention for this cause as my name could muster.
Why start a foundation in the first place? I made a couple of trips to Africa and Haiti in 2009. I saw a lot of what we all see on television, but in person and for real. It is pretty devastating to see the conditions that a huge amount of people in the world live in. Poverty is a worldwide problem, as we all know, even in the U.S. And it is easy to become cynical when you see the complexity of solving it. I am definitely not going to be the one to figure it out. There are many, many brilliant dedicated people who have devoted their lives to this. But to do nothing feels wrong. So I started this “foundation” as a way of sort of channeling any funds and attention I could help raise into helping the people I think are doing amazing work to solve this problem.
In the little I have learned, it is clear that one of the keys to solving the problem of poverty is education. With all the immediate challenges of living in poverty, the long term goal of educating kids in the most at risk areas is a basic building block to help people have better lives. Unfortunately, for many children around the world, access to education is a formidable challenge, and in many areas, non-existent. That is why our foundation has made the challenges of poverty and education its focus. And right now we are focusing our efforts on helping Haiti.
I took my first trip to Haiti in 2009, before the earthquake, when Haiti was already the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, and a country where only half of primary school-age children are enrolled in school. We made a commitment to support the construction of the Cévérine School in the central plateau of Haiti. We raised the money and rebuilt the school, which is now serving over 250 children.
Then the earthquake struck. And Haiti’s need to improve quality education became an outright crisis. Ninety percent of schools in Port-au-Prince and more than half of schools in other areas were damaged or destroyed in the quake.
It has now been over three years since the earthquake and many schools are still in temporary tents. Small neighborhood schools are struggling to stay in session with limited facilities and teachers.
Haiti’s children need our help now more than ever.
The Stiller Foundation is working to build more schools, to give more children the chance to realize their potential. You can help by visiting the Support section of the website. Get involved, donate, check out our “gear”. It will all go to funding our programs and supporting the children of Haiti.