Bridge International Academies was born out of a conversation Jay Kimmelman, Shannon May, and Phil Frei shared in 2007. Passionate advocates for education and issues related to global poverty, our three cofounders wondered why no one was thinking about schools in developing countries the way Starbucks® thought about coffee. Why hadn’t anyone tried to tackle education for the bottom of the pyramid by building a large-scale chain of low-cost, high-quality schools? Costs could remain low due to scale. Quality would be ensured due to standardization. Monetizing the institution would guarantee sustainability and, importantly, place the parents in control.
Our trio decided to be the first to try. Bringing with them Jay’s experience founding Edusoft (an education software company in the USA), Shannon’s background in education, international development, and sustainable design, and Phil’s history of developing award-winning educational toys (some licensed by LEGO®!), they developed the Academy-in-a-Box model that continues to guide the company today. In January 2009, the first Bridge International Academy opened in the Mukuru slum in Nairobi, Kenya. Today there are hundreds of academies with more launching every term. Expansion plans are in place on a global level with a mission of reaching 10,000,000 children.