Nick Parker received his PhD from the School of Natural Resources & Environment at the University of Michigan. His research is concerned with how people in Africa cope with environmental change and hazards like drought, and what role foreign aid might play in assisting with longer-term adaptations. In 2008 Nick and Jess conducted research in Rufiji District, Tanzania, and became very interested in public and private education in the country. BooksOpen Foundation is a product of that experience.

Nick remains optimistic about the ability of carefully crafted donor initiatives to produce positive outcomes, especially in the educational sector. He looks forward to bringing together a diverse group of stakeholders with this project, and sharing in the successes and learning experiences that are sure to come.

Jess Palmer’s first trip to Africa was an eight month stint to Rufiji. Having had years of wonderful schooling, herself—from the six her Mom spent home-schooling her to a Master’s degree from the University of Michigan School of Natural Resources and Environment—Jess was taken aback by the village schools in Rufiji: each had a student body of over 300 and only 4 or 5 resource-strapped teachers. During her time there, she became increasingly convinced that the success of these communities depended on the education of their children. Through BooksOpen, she hopes to make a difference in the lives of a few students who may not have had the opportunity to go to school, and empower them to believe that they have the ability to create their own futures.

Nick and Jess currently live in Charlottesville, Virginia with their daughter, Fiona, and dog, Monk.

Ally Msuya is the BooksOpen student liaison. He is a former school teacher and currently holds the position of District Officer in Rufiji District, Tanzania. Throughout his life, Msuya has taught and taken orphaned children into his home. For BooksOpen, he is charged with locating potentially new Scholars, arranging for their admittance to boarding school and purchasing the long list of necessary items (not an easy task when most of these children have no possessions to begin with), and taking care of the Scholars during the three holidays between terms. Msuya loves children, and BooksOpen couldn’t have a better person looking out for their welfare.

Jacob Mwangi is a high school teacher of Information Technology in Tanzania, and the BooksOpen photographer/videographer. He will be delivering images and updates to the site so that supporters can follow the progress of the BooksOpen Scholars.

Learn about BooksOpen Foundation