Remembering Christel DeHaan

Joey Amato | June 7, 2020

The city of Indianapolis mourns the loss of Christel DeHaan – philanthropist, community leader, and Christel House International Founder and Board Chair. Christel died at home, surrounded by family. She leaves behind three children and her older sister, along with numerous grandchildren, great grandchildren and nieces and nephews. She was 77.

After a remarkable career in business as the co-founder of Resort Condominiums International (RCI), Christel created her beloved nonprofit Christel House International in 1998 with the goal of transforming the lives of impoverished children around the globe. 

Now serving nearly 6,000 students and graduates worldwide through schools in India, Jamaica, Mexico, South Africa and the United States, Christel House was created to address the root causes of poverty through a holistic human development model. 

Thanks to Christel’s careful planning, the work of Christel House will continue to be supported through funding from the Endless Success Foundation, an organization created by her estate. It was her wish that all Christel House general and administrative expenses be covered in perpetuity. This allows all donor investments to continue to directly serve the programs and services needed by Christel House students.

“Christel’s vision and compassion were unparalleled,” says Dennert O. Ware, Chair of the Christel House International Governance Committee. “Christel sought to provide impoverished children with a seat at the table of life – and accomplished her mission with a unique blend of business acumen, generosity and empathy for those less fortunate.  Her legacy will live on in the thousands of lives she uplifted.” 

The mission of Christel House is to alleviate poverty by transforming the lives of children through education. Focused on academic excellence with a robust K–12 curriculum combined with a strong character development program, Christel House gives students from the most difficult backgrounds the skills and competencies necessary to compete successfully in a complex 21st century society.

Much more than a school, Christel House was established in 1998 by Founder Christel DeHaan, and currently serves nearly 6,000 impoverished students through seven learning centers—located in India, Mexico, South Africa and the United States. An eighth school, Christel House Jamaica will open in 2020. Christel House students maintain a 90% graduation exam pass rate, and the majority of its graduates go on to pursue higher education. They become productive citizens, and many secure employment with top multinational corporations. Christel House graduates are confident, hardworking, responsible and ethical, with a passion for giving back to their communities and caring for their families.

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