Title: Founder and President
Company: Kijana Educational Empowerment Initiative
Location: North Palm Beach, Florida, United States
James P. Cummings, Founder and President of the Kijana Educational Empowerment Initiative, has been recognized by Marquis Who’s Who Top Educators for dedication, achievements, and leadership in nonprofit administration and fundraising.
Mr. Cummings is a retired high school history and social studies teacher who has found success since 2002 as the founder and president of Kijana Educational Empowerment Initiative (Kijana), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. “Kijana,” means “ young person” or “youth” in Kiswahili. The organization invests in schools in Kenya, assisting students and teachers with opportunities and building cross-cultural connections with schools in the United States. Additionally, Kijana advances environmental education and sustainability. From 2002 to 2020, Kijana invested in over 30 schools and rebuilt a public school, Mwituha, which educates over 500 students today. In 2020, Kijana opened its first independent school, the Kijana Global Innovation School.
Prior to his current role, Mr. Cummings worked as a high school history teacher at Seminole Ridge Community High School, in Loxahatchee, FL from 2013 to 2019. From 1995 to 2009, he was an upper school social studies teacher at The Benjamin School, in North Palm Beach, FL. He taught middle school social studies at The Prairie School, in Racine, WI, from 1989-93. Mr. Cummings began his career teaching high school at Ebusiloli Secondary School, in Vihiga County, Kenya, as a WorldTeach volunteer from 1987 to 1988.
Mr. Cummings prepared for his career at Macalester College, in St. Paul, MN. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in history and international studies in 1986. In 1995, he earned a Master of Arts in history from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he studied African history and Kiswahili.
Mr. Cummings received a “Distinguished Service Award from St. Mary Central H.S. in 2013 for Outstanding Lifetime Achievements. In the spring of 2022, Mr. Cummings received the Charles J. Turck Global Citizen Award from Macalester College. In December 2022, he was named an educational visionary at the Education 2.0 Conference, in Dubai, where he additionally gave a keynote address.
Mr. Cummings is widely known in Palm Beach County. In 2021, he was recognized for developing the Kijana Global Innovation School with a feature in the Town-Crier titled “Local Teacher Jim Cummings Builds School in Western Kenya.” He was featured in the September 2022 Education issue of Palm Beach Illustrated for building the school. In 2022, CBS 12 (West Palm Beach) named him a hometown hero.
Mr. Cummings has been a member of several Palm Beach County Kiwanis Clubs for close to 20 years. He is presently an active member of the Northside West Palm Beach Club and has served as a board member. He has also been a member of the Sierra Club for more than four decades. His success stems from his passion and commitment to contributing to education, youth and to the global community.
The Kijana Global Innovation School continues to grow. Having opened with 15 students in 2020, the school now educates 175 youth, three years later. The organization is raising money to construct a world-class library and media center next year, which has been designed primarily by two award-winning New York city architects, one of whom was a student of his at The Prairie School in 1989-91. In 2023, Kijana was awarded a Silver Anthem Award, by the Anthem Awards for Community Engagement within the category of Sustainability, Environment and Climate. In Mr. Cummings’ spare time, he enjoys reading, walking, running, traveling, exploring and watching movies.
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