The drive from China Schools Foundation’s sometimes office at Sakura Hotel in downtown Kunming to Dabai Village takes only 70 or 80 minutes in good traffic. The contrast in living conditions could hardly be greater, but the enthusiasm of Dabai Primary School’s students for learning is no less, and perhaps even more, than city students, knowing that education is their best chance to escape poverty and change their lives.
It was the discrepancy between city and country schools and the disadvantage imposed on children who are in every respect as bright and deserving as their city cousins that inspired the efforts by an educator and two businessmen in Hong Kong to help narrow that urban-rural gap in educational standards and opportunities.
- Ben Frankel, Executive Director – a U.S. qualified lawyer and Kellogg-HKUST MBA, Ben founded The Hong Kong Academy Educational Foundation in 2000 and served as the school’s administrative director and chairman of the board until 2006-07. Currently based in Xi’an, Ben is implementing school improvement programs and developing CSF’s educational and co-curricular programming.
- Charles Monat, Director – a Hong Kong resident since 1971, Chairman of the Charles Monat Group, noted insurance executive, financial advisor and philanthropist, Chuck has provided seed money for development of the CSF program and implementation of Yunnan and Shaanxi pilot projects. He and Bob Green were instrumental as founders of The United Jewish Congregation of Hong Kong.
- Bob Green, Director – a 40-year resident of Asia, Bob came to Hong Kong as a reporter for NBC News before starting Amazing Grace, a well-known retailer of Asian arts and crafts. Previously a teacher in Vietnam and Taiwan, Bob has been active in program development including project school selection, government relations, school resourcing, and communications materials as well as contributing funding for the pilot project in Yunnan Province.
- Chau Laiyi (Cindy), She Sung King Oi (Maggie), and Grace Manwah Green – providing support services in the areas of resourcing, communications, finance, and project coordination.