June 8, 2016

Haiti Optimiste 2016

On June 1st, we gathered together with friends and supporters for our annual Haiti Optimiste event in New York City at the French Institute Alliance Française (FIAF) to benefit Artists Institute. This year’s event was hosted by Grammy Award-Winner Maxwell and Artists Institute founder David Belle.

The event opened with a performance by the event’s artistic director, Haitian musician Paul Beaubrun. Paul is one of Haiti’s most promising new international musical talents, with a recent chart-topping solo album and appearances alongside artists such as Arcade Fire, Sheryl Crow, and Lauryn Hill.


After his performance, guests viewed a screening of the short documentary “Dans la cour de Vivianne Gauthier”, which explores the life and legacy of Vivianne Gauthier, one of Haiti’s most iconic dancers, choreographers, and teachers, and the role that her remarkable home has played in her career. Directed by Marie-Claude Fournier and beautifully shot by Ciné Institute graduate Marco Saint Juste, the film was produced by Ciné Institute for the Deutsche Bank Americas Foundation.

Following the screening, Riva Précil and Bohio Music took to the stage. Having studied dance with Madame Gauthier in Haiti, Ms. Précil gave a striking performance of dance and music that left the audience breathless.


Afterwards, Artists Institute Director Paula Hyppolite and graduate Cesar “Bougon” Massena gave inspiring testimonials about the training made available through the Institute and employment opportunities for graduates. Paul Beaubrun then returned to perform a new song “Surrender”, dedicated to Bougon and his incredible journey. Paul recently wrote the song while attending a Songwriters Summit at Artists Institute hosted by music legend and APJ Advisory Board member Jackson Browne.

David Belle then came to the stage to join Paul, bringing with him Maxwell and Artists Institute advisory board member Michael Brun. Both guests spoke about their experiences at the Institute and the importance of supporting young Haitian artists. Michael Brun told the story of writing his hit single “Wherever I Go” at the Institute and his own personal journey of connecting with his Haitian roots. Maxwell then spoke about how his trip to Artists Institute helped him connect with his heritage. He expressed that he has been searching for an organization that he could trust, whose impact is evident and consistent. He is excited to be supporting APJ and Artists Institute on his upcoming tour, donating $1 from every ticket sold to support our programs in Haiti. The news was met with overwhelming applause!

Following these testimonies, supporters in the audience were asked to consider making contributions of their own to fund the future of the school. The response was overwhelming and shattered previous records from the event.


The show wrapped up with a screening of the “Wherever I Go” music video, directed by Ciné Institute graduate Marc Henry Valmond and a electric performance by Haitian roots band Lakou Mizik. The audience was on their feet dancing in the aisles, some joining the band on stage before everyone was led out of the theater in a rara procession to enjoy a reception with amazing Haitian cuisine prepared by Nadege Fleurimond.


It was truly a magical night thanks to so many friends and supporters. Our deepest thanks to all who came to Haiti Optimiste and for your support of Artists Institute. Until next year!

Click here to see more photos from the event.




We are thrilled to announce that the APJ Store is open! Now you can get all your favorite APJ gear as well as our incredible collaborations with like-minded brands and artists, including Bovet 1822, Vhernier, Faherty, Roots, Obey, TwentySix, Simbi, Fait la Force and Michael Brun. Support APJ and look stylish doing it! Create change & buy for good. Shop now: store.apjnow.org.

Haitian born DJ and Audio Institute advisory board member Michael Brun recently produced the song ‘Wherever I Go’ with our students at Artists Institute. It was a collaboration born out of his love for the school and for his country. Over the past year Brun visited Audio Institute several times to produce the track, working with a number of Haitian artists on the song, including BélO and J. Perry.


Michael says, “’Wherever I Go’ is the most important project I’ve ever worked on in my career because it’s been a way for me to both share my heritage with the world and show the positivity that comes with investing in community”.

Michael is generously donating 100% of the proceeds from the song to APJ. Check out the song here and watch the music video below!

January 13, 2016

Thank you Aspen!

Thank you Aspen! We had an incredible inaugural New Years Eve celebration with Bovet 1822 at the beautiful St. Regis Aspen Hotel. Co-hosts included Academy Award® winner Susan Sarandon, star polo player and model Nacho Figueras and wife Delfina Blaquier, owner of the St. Regis Aspen Stephane De Baets, owner of Bovet 1822 Pascal Raffy, and Amy Sacco. Event guests included the evening’s performers, Win Butler and Régine Chassagne of Arcade Fire, musician Rufus Wainwright, actress and model Madalina Ghenea, and front man of The National Matt Berninger.

Click here for photos from the celebration.

The spectacular night featured hors d’oeuvres and a four course culinary experience from Chefs Club by Food & Wine Magazine, including Petrossian Caviar, agnolotti with shaved white truffle, and a Waygu beef duo. The open bar featured Billecart-Salmon Champagne, Aspen Brewing Company Beer, and cocktails furnished by Woody Creek Distillery. Guests wore special Masquerade Masks hand painted by Broadway makeup designer Joe Dulude II.

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Highlights of the evening included a lively and fun auction, where a Zoolander 2 experience brought home over $50,000, and a special live performance by Arcade Fire’s Win Butler and Régine Chassagne, who played classics such as “Haiti”, “The Suburbs,” and were joined onstage by Matt Berninger from The National for a beautiful version of “Wake Up.” Katharine McPhee, American Idol contestant and star of hit television show ‘Smash’, sang the classic “What Are You Doing New Years” to start off the party.

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“I couldn’t think of a better way to start 2016 than with our friend Stephane and the St Regis family. Artists for Peace and Justice has always benefited from our extraordinary, ever-growing, committed friends who are all dedicated to achieving meaningful results for the children of Haiti. The Midnight Masquerade brought together old friends and an opportunity to make new friends and continue to build on our fantastic achievements. In the coming year, we will be prepared for new challenges but also a bright beginning for our first-ever graduating high school class. Because of you, these children will have a chance at a better tomorrow. Because of you, we are beginning to break the cycle of poverty and lack of education in Haiti. And because of you, and your amazing support, we can ring in the New Year with a message of hope and progress for our students. We’re grateful to the Aspen community, our incredible partners and friends Bovet 1822, Stephane De Baets, Chefs Club by Food&Wine and the St. Regis Aspen for the warm welcome to your beautiful town.”

We came to Aspen with our strategic partner, Bovet 1822, as the 2015 New Years Eve gala’s title sponsor, with Owner Pascal Raffy joining the roster of co-hosts for the evening. Bovet 1822 ensures APJ is able to give 100 percent of every dollar raised directly to Haiti.

Guests looking to wear this season’s hottest new looks visited The Armarium Chalet, a luxury pop-up retail styling concept where guests have access to high fashion pieces on a borrowed basis, as well as access to the fashion industry’s top stylists. Esteemed guests of the Midnight Masquerade Susan Sarandon, Delfina Blaquier, APJ COO Kathryn Everett, and more were all dressed by The Armarium Chalet.

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The highlight of the evening was the countdown to midnight, with Win Butler and Régine Chassagne taking the stage with Zing Experience (Paul Beaubrun, Morgan Zwerlein and Yves Boyer) to play Arcade Fire’s hit “Here Comes the Night Time” as the fireworks display was above them and the beautiful Aspen mountains. It was a truly special way to ring in the New Year.

All in all, over $500,000 was raised for our programs in Haiti. The Midnight Masquerade was a party for our guests to do good, and have fun!


December 16, 2015

Fait la Force Tote for APJ

We are excited to announce the new ‘School Kids Tote’ by Fait la Force benefitting APJ! Fait la Force “works with Haitian artisans using traditional techniques and natural materials to provide jobs, skills and access to markets by bringing modern design to indigenous craft”.

This tote was made with the local fabrics that are used for making school uniforms. 100% of the proceeds from the sale of these totes will go directly to our programs in Haiti. They make the perfect holiday gift!

Click here to purchase yours today.


Natasha Koifman, APJ Canada Board Chair and President of NKPR, has partnered with custom scent experts Aromachology to create a new fragrance, TWENTYSIX, in support of Artists for Peace and Justice.

Crafted from Haitian vetiver, a fragrant grass that grows on the coast of Haiti, TWENTYSIX combines 26 ingredients to inspire and move the heart. Bergamot top notes reveal a floral bouquet of roses and peony, followed by patchouli, earthy sandalwood and noble vetiver. The scent evokes Haiti’s natural charm, timelessness and possibility.

“We are inspired by the work that Artists for Peace and Justice does, and jumped on the chance to be involved in such a meaningful passion project,” says Ashlee Posner, Co-Founder of Aromachology. “Haiti is the largest producer of vetiver in the world and being able to create a product to support Haitians was so important to both Natasha and myself.”

“Collaborating with Aromachology was a natural fit based on our likeminded passion for philanthropy. We both wanted to develop a product timed for holiday that would truly be the gift that gives back,” says Natasha Koifman. “The signature scent was named TWENTYSIX because it is not only a number that holds a lot of meaning in my life, but combines 26 ingredients including one directly sourced from Haiti. Every day I am in awe of the kids of Haiti and their unbreakable spirit and I am so grateful to be able to share what comes from this beautiful country.”

We are very excited for the launch of this product right before the holidays. It is the perfect gift! You can read more about the project and purchase the fragrance at www.26forapj.com.

Cristiano Ronaldo, the world’s most charitable sports star and top scorer for Real Madrid, is teaming up with APJ to help us establish a sports program at the Academy for Peace and Justice by giving one lucky fan their dream day at El Clásico: Real Madrid v. Barcelona!

The campaign launches today through Omaze and offers fans the opportunity to donate for the chance to join Cristiano in Madrid this November. The trip, for two people, will include a pre-game meal with the man himself, a haircut (yes, Cristiano will get his hair cut with the winner), and last but not least, the winner will attend one of the biggest games of the year, El Clásico: Real Madrid vs. Barcelona, as Ronaldo’s personal guest.

The funds raised from this campaign will go toward the development and advancement of sports programs and facilities at the Academy for Peace and Justice!

Cristiano Ronaldo says, “Artists for Peace and Justice is a special group. They’re making a difference in the world. They open doors that are closed and they create opportunities for kids to follow their dreams. With this campaign we will create a beautiful football program in Haiti at an Artists for Peace and Justice school.  For me, the more I give back to others, the more I get back. It makes me feel really good to help where I can.”

Thank you Ronaldo!

ENTER TO WIN: omaze.com/ronaldo

September 16, 2015

Together We Will Go Far

Thank you Toronto! An impressive 1.2 million dollars was raised at the sixth annual Bovet 1822 and Artists for Peace and Justice 2015 Festival Gala held at Casa Loma. Co-Chaired by Natasha Koifman and Sylvia Mantella, the event was co-hosted by an influential team of artists, actors, and philanthropists, including George Stroumboulopoulos, Dame Helen Mirren and Mr. Pascal Raffy, Owner of Bovet 1822.

Click here for photos from the celebration.

The evening’s title sponsor was APJ strategic partner Bovet 1822, the extraordinary timepiece company that ensures APJ is able to give 100 percent of every dollar raised directly to Haiti. This year’s event included a beautiful sit-down dinner at the glorious Casa Loma, operated by Liberty Entertainment Group.

Tomy Swick began the evening with a musical performance, followed by the theatrical live auction hosted by the Scott Brothers, Drew and Jonathan. Our lots included joining Petra Nemcova for Fashion Week, lunch with Diane von Furstenberg, a live studio session with Jackson Browne and a walk on role in James Franco’s next movie!

Helen Mirren presented our inaugural Peace and Justice Award to Susan Sarandon, remarking that Susan is a true “social justice warrior,” a tireless advocate for human rights and peace throughout the world.

APJ’s CEO David Belle then presented our team member Jaebets Jean Gilles with his Peace and Justice Award. Mr. Jean Gilles serves as the head of the St. Luke Foundation’s education department, where he “works to empower future generations to create a better tomorrow for his country.”

Father Rick took the stage to talk about his work on the ground and the importance of action, leading us into our very special centerpiece film “Together We Will Go Far” about William Osias (a student at the Academy for Peace and Justice) and his brother Alexandre Osias. The Osias brothers came up from Haiti just for this special night and surprised the audience with a performance of the title song from the film. Everyone was on their feet dancing and gave them a standing ovation! It was a magical moment.

Moby then took the stage for a special acoustic set, and Win Butler (DJ Windows 98) and Régine Chassange of Arcade Fire started a dance party with some RaRa to close out the night! It was such a special celebration under the stars, which raised enough for 2,000 student scholarships. Thank you, Toronto!

We’re thrilled to announce that this year’s 2015 Festival Gala will be held on Sunday, September 13.

For the past four years, APJ’s annual event has become a mainstay during the Toronto International Film Festival, acquiring a strong following of philanthropists, businesspeople, film stars, directors, musicians, and artists from around the world who come out to have fun and raise vital funds for our programs in Haiti.

We are thrilled that this year’s event will once again take place at Liberty Group’s Casa Loma, a treasured piece of Toronto history.

The evening will feature an elegant cocktail and dinner gala in the castle garden, followed by a very special musical performance.

Be on the lookout for more announcements on co-hosts, performers, and tickets over the next few weeks and in the meantime look back on a few of our past Toronto events here, here and here!

To inquire about sponsorship, tickets, or anything else please contact us.

April 27, 2015

Work Hard, Play Harder

Our students love learning new things in and outside the classroom! And this past month they had the perfect chance to do just that! On April 18th, Dean Jacobs, a professional soccer player turned coach and educator, visited our Academy For Peace and Justice in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.


Dean Jacobs along with The Lyford Cay Football Club, work for a charity that travels internationally to inspire and assist those in need through the use of sports and arts. After meeting with our staff in Haiti, The Lyford Cay Football Club and Dean Jacobs spent a day with us at the Academy coaching our students on a game of football. Over 600 of our students came out and showed off some of their best moves. Along with playing a cheerful game, the club also donated some stylish & fresh gear to our young soccer stars-to-be! Talk about a SCORE!!



Seven brilliant and beautiful women came to Haiti to visit the Academy for Peace and Justice, the St. Damien’s Children’s Hospital and Cite-Soleil, one of the poorest slums of the Western hemisphere.

The students were extremely inspired by these successful women and leaders who shared their experiences.

These extraordinary women are:

Natasha Koifman, APJ Canada Board Chair and Founder of NKPR, Sylvia Mantella, Chief Marketing Officer of Mantella Corporation, Lola Schnabel, renowned artist, Gisella Marengo, Italian actress and producer, Madalina Ghenea, Romanian actress and fashion model, Lori Manuel Steed and Birgit Grossmann Coles, owners of Simbi Inc.

View more photos from their visit here!

On February 26th, we invited friends to celebrate Haiti’s unique beauty and culture at  Haiti Optimiste, held annually at the French Institute Alliance Française (FIAF) in NYC! Hosted by David Belle and Marc Baptiste, the event opened with a fantastic performance by Paul Beaubrun. Paul played his hit single “Ayizan,” off the new album Vilnerab.

The evening featured a screening of the best works from Artists Institute in the past year. After the screening, the hosts and three brilliant graduates of the Institute, Keziah Jean, Marc Henry Valmond, and Macdala Prévot, took the stage for a Q&A about the trials and tribulations they faced while chasing their dreams. There were many tears as they shared the inspiring successes they’ve accomplished since graduating from Artists Institute.

We closed the night with a charity bid which helped us reach $100,000 raised for the evening, then celebrated the night’s success with a reception featuring delicious Haitian delicacies and lively drum music. Thanks to everyone who came out to Haiti Optimiste NYC to support our Artists Institute by sharing an evening of joy and laughter.

We’re taking this event on the road — see you in Montreal or Los Angeles next!

To see more pictures, click here.