Ten Thousand Reasons to Get Out of Bed

Mike Chanbers '09 makes a difference in Kenya and Haiti

Charlotte Crawford ’16

Mike Chambers ’09 knows the value in working toward a better future—for himself, and for as many people as he can possibly help along the way. Chambers joined Flying Kites, an organization that educates orphaned children in the foothills of Kenya’s Aberdares Mountain Range, in 2010, just one year after his graduation from St. Lawrence.
“St. Lawrence does a really great job at cultivating a sense of curiosity among its students,” Chambers says. “I left my time on campus unafraid to venture out into the world and explore a non-conventional career path.”

He has since raised millions of dollars in unrestricted funding for the cause, beginning with an adventure travel affiliate called FK Adventures. Participants are required to cover the cost of their trip and also meet a predetermined fundraising target to go toward funding Flying Kites. Chambers created the program the same year he started with Flying Kites, offering a multitude of treks to destinations across the globe. He now serves as Flying Kites’ chief strategist, working with the board to guide high-level programmatic and fundraising strategies.

As if all that were not enough, last year Chambers simultaneously directed his philanthropic efforts toward Haiti. He co-founded Summits, which aims to develop an educational system that will implement teacher-training programs and is building a secondary school for high-performing students.

“I believe that a teacher-centered approach to education reform in the developing world is what has been missing all along,” he says. “No matter what moves you, be it global health, gender equality, economic development, education is one sector of society that influences all sectors of society.”

Summits works with Haiti’s most vulnerable population, managing a network of 42 primary schools across Haiti’s Central Plateau. This means supporting upwards of 10,000 students and teachers.

“That's 10,000 reasons to get out of bed in the morning,” Chambers says. “This line of work is not without challenges, but there is a long list of success stories that provide plenty of fuel for the fire.”

Mike Chambers is not the only Laurentian doing good things in Haiti. Dr. Edward “Ted” Higgins ’71 has been traveling to that country, offering medical care to residents, and is now building a surgical center. Plans call for an emergency room/ trauma center, two operating rooms, and a large patient ward. More on this in a future issue of St. Lawrence.