Bridge International Academies in Inc. magazine.
May, who co-founded Bridge with her husband, Jay Kimmelman, is no stranger to the unexpected and the controversial. Bridge is a promising and polarizing attempt to educate 10 million children throughout the developing world. Since launching in a Nairobi slum in 2009, it has scaled low-cost nursery and primary schools at a torrid pace. Today, roughly 100,000 African students get a Bridge education. May is backed by $100 million from a starry cadre of investors that includes Bill Gates, the Omidyar Network, and Mark Zuckerberg.
A Berkeley-and Harvard-trained anthropologist, May started focusing on education during postdoctoral work in rural China. There she observed children walking more than an hour to reach dark, freezing classrooms where often no teachers showed up. "It was like Charles Dickens's London," she says. The regulatory hurdles to opening schools in China were insurmountable, so she and Kimmelman turned to Africa.