Artists for Peace and Justice (APJ) has announced that it will merge with Ben Stiller's Haitian school initiative (HSI).

The two organizations, both of whom were committed to improving living conditions in impoverished Haiti prior to the devastating earthquake, will combine their shared passion in helping build essential schools for the children of Haiti. Together they have engaged Global Philanthropy Group (GPG) to help develop and manage their philanthropic efforts. In partnership with an interim Country Director in Port-au-Prince, GPG will coordinate the day-to-day efforts of APJ.

“Ben Stiller understands the important role of schools in the lives of Haitian children. Together we share a mutual passion and determination to be as effective as quickly as possible,” says Paul Haggis, founder of Artists for Peace and Justice. “For the children of Haiti, schools provide so much more than education. They provide their only hot meals, their only clean drinking water and medical attention. These are critical elements for children, especially in a time of crisis.”

Established in early 2009, Artists for Peace and Justice is a fundraising effort founded by Paul Haggis and friends that encourages peace and social justice and addresses issues of poverty and enfranchisement in communities around the world. Over the past year, APJ has focused on raising funds to support essential street schools in Haiti. Following the devastating earthquake APJ has expanded its efforts to include emergency aid. To date, APJ has raised nearly $6.3 million including an impressive $3.5 million in long-term commitments through 2014.

Ben Stiller’s Haitian school initiative

Ben Stiller funded a community school in the rural village of Cérévrine, Haiti in 2009 and launched the Haitian school initiative in January, 2010 in an effort to help provide temporary schools for Haitians displaced by the earthquake.

Ben’s humourous STILLERSTRONG campaign, which was launched prior to the earthquake, included viral videos with high-profile participants such as Robert De Niro and Bill Clinton. As a result of this campaign, Ben generated the $300,000 in fundraising needed to complete the school and achieved an increased awareness of the needs of the impoverished Haitian people.

“If there is one way we can help Haiti emerge from this crisis, putting our efforts into building temporary and permanent schools is a step in the right direction,” says Ben Stiller. “When I heard about APJ’s initiatives and the difference they’re making in the country and spoke with Paul Haggis about their fundraising efforts, I knew we could accomplish more together.”

Given the shared goals and interests of Artists for Peace and Justice and the Ben Stiller Haitian school initiative, a merging of forces seemed a natural progression. As part of the merge, the Haitian school initiative will become a core program of Artists for Peace and Justice with Ben Stiller continuing to provide funding. Ben Stiller will join the APJ Board of Directors that includes Paul Haggis, Dr. Reza Nabavian and Dr. Bob Arnot. The Board of Directors is supported by an Advisory Board that includes a number of influential voices: Simon Baker and Rebecca Rigg, Javier Bardem, David Belle, Maria Bello, Josh Brolin, Jackson Browne, Gerard Butler, Jim Clark, Daniel Craig, Russell Crowe, Penelope Cruz, Dina and Clint Eastwood, Frances Fisher, Dr. Henri Ford, James Franco, Gale-Anne Hurd, Jimmy Jean-Louis, Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban, Natasha Koifman, Diane Lane, Michael Stahl-David, Lekha Singh, Madeleine Stowe, Charlize Theron and Olivia Wilde.

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