In A Perfect World is celebrating today’s (Jan. 9) opening of a school in Malawi, built in honor of Prince — the first erected with seed money donated by the late legend’s fans.
The Chisumbu School, located in the village of Chimbwinda, welcomed 174 students during the first day of classes. It’s actually the second Malawi school established in Prince’s honor in the southeast Africa country. After In A Perfect World founder and Prince’s ex-wife Manuela Testolini announced plans to build the Phaso School in the village of Ng’ozo — which broke ground last July — fans reached out to help.
“After we announced the Phaso School, I received an email from Prince fans — NPG UK and the Purple Army — who wanted to contribute and be part of something that was tangible,” says Testolini. “So I asked if they’d like to work toward a second school. To me, this is their baby.”
Dedicated to breaking the cycle of poverty and illiteracy in economically impoverished regions, In A Perfect World has built 24 primary schools in seven countries through its REACH (Rural Education and Community Harmony) program in partnership with buildOn. In addition to Malawi and Nepal, where another new school and educational centers are being planned, In A Perfect World has established schools in Mali, Senegal, Burkina Faso, Haiti and Nicaragua to benefit more than 3800 students.
Watch In A Perfect World’s video thank-you to Prince fans:
Launched by Testolini in December 2005, In A Perfect World grew out of her work with Prince’s Love 4 One Another charity through which she first met the singer. “Anybody who knew Prince knows that he encouraged people to follow their passion,” says Testolini. “He asked me, ‘In your perfect world, what do you want to do?’ He was always about empowering communities, whether here or abroad. And he expected us to do the same.”
Of the foundation’s work since its inception, Testolini adds, “It’s one thing to talk about it. And it’s another to be there. But to actually watch the kids in the classrooms in communities where up to 90% of the people can’t read or write is completely overwhelming and beautiful.”
This past weekend, Testolini was honored by the Boys and Girls Club in Washington, D.C. on behalf of its Fearless Girls mentoring program. Concurrently, she announced that In A Perfect World is partnering with the Boys and Girls Club to expand her foundation’s youth ambassador program into the D.C. area. The program, which also operates in Minneapolis, will be relaunched in Los Angeles as well.
Next Monday (Jan. 16), in celebration of Martin Luther King Day, In A Perfect World will host a service day at Los Angeles’ Dorsey High School, bringing in 45 volunteers to revitalize the campus.