Always Do the Right Thing. Community involvement and improvement of our hometown, Orlando, and its people, is one of the highest priorities at Rosen Hotels & Resorts®. The Harris Rosen Foundation dedicates substantial resources of time, money, and hands-on help in a variety of efforts:
- the Tangelo Park Program
- the Parramore Program
- The Adam Michael Rosen Foundation, Inc.
- The Harris Rosen Foundation
- Haiti Relief-Rebuild-Sustain Program,
Why? I look at everything as ‘always doing the right thing’. I treat others the way I want to be treated.
It’s really very simple. Always do the right thing.
I am often asked to speak about philanthropy to a society that is more capitalistic vs. empathic. I feel that if you achieve success, you have the responsibility to give back.
My first epiphany came when I was sitting at my desk at the Quality Inn on International Drive in Orlando, Florida, where I lived for 16 years and have worked for the past 46 years. The Rosen Plaza Hotel was up and running and the Rosen Center was ready to open. And I was thinking about how fortunate I have been. My mother always told me that if I didn’t want to spend my life in New York City’s Lower East Side, I should become well-educated.
My choice was to do well in school and to move on or stay if I didn’t. Education was important in my family. I dreamed of building a large hotel. Once I accomplished that, I decided it was time to give back—and to really do it in a significant way. I decided to help youngsters with their education. I would provide scholarships to an underserved neighbourhood.
I met with two educational experts in Orlando and indicated to them that I wanted to reward youngsters who worked hard, but that I needed to know how to motivate them. The childhood expert suggested an early childhood program that would subsequently follow the youngsters from ages 2-22. With that idea in place, I called Mable Butler, an Orange County Commissioner, who picked me up and drove me to the Tangelo Park neighbourhood – a neighbourhood in transition. The community residents were marching in the streets to get bad influences out of their neighbourhood.
The new Rosen initiative and the neighbourhood married. Always do the right thing …
I shared my vision with Bob Allen, the Tangelo Park Elementary School principal, who brought in the Baptist church leader and other neighborhood activists. I was met with skepticism: “Why? When? How would it start?” I suggested that we meet the neighborhood in the elementary school library. The library was full. I announced the 2-22 plan and an office that would help with parenting—a safe haven for mothers to rest and children to play.
I agreed to re-vitalize the neighborhood YMCA and to help the church.
When would I start? Right away! I started with seniors graduating in the June 1994 class by giving them a full Rosen scholarship. For pre-school, we decided to convert about 10 homes into little preschools, each accommodating six youngsters from ages 2-4. We certified the homeowner as a care giver and we were ready to open the neighborhood centres. I brought in a trailer for a small home school as a prototype. A few students claimed the scholarship. One man became a firefighter. We created the Family Service Center, provided computers and supplies to the media center, and helped senior citizens at the church.
The Tangelo Park Program (TPP) went from dream to tangible and beneficial. There was an anxiety about the true value of program, but I agreed to a local television documentary because it could inspire others to replicate the program. The good seal of approval was the Return on Investment calculation done by Lance Lochner, Professor and Director, CHCP (Centre for Human Capital and Productivity) at the University of Western Ontario, who determined a ROI of 7:1 ($7 for every $1 spent).
Since the inception of the TPP, high school and college graduation rates have approached 100%; lifetime earnings have increased by approximately $500K – $1 million. Crime rates are down dramatically (approximately 78%) and real estate values are steadily increasing: home values have gone from $40,000 to $150,000.
Always do the right thing
Encouraged by the success of the Tangelo Park Program, The Harris Rosen Foundation created the Parramore Program in an under-served community in downtown Orlando, a program that parallels the Tangelo Park initiative with free preschool education and care. The Harris Rosen Foundation pays the teachers’ salaries and 24 preschool classrooms were designed to accommodate up to 12 children each, for a total of 288 children.
Children who attend the Parramore preschool, the new elementary and middle school, and then graduate from Jones High School, will receive a free two- or four-year college or vocational school public education, also paid for by The Harris Rosen Foundation. As in the Tangelo Park Program, free tuition includes room, books and transportation.
We believe that adopting a neighborhood is something that should be happening across the nation to make education equality a reality. If financially capable individuals or organizations replicate the Tangelo Park Program in other neighborhoods, we believe that we will change America, one community at a time.
Lending your neighbours a helping hand is the right thing to do. It’s really very simple.
A note from the editor …
This article is a follow up from, doing the right thing, the article that Harris Rosen wrote last month. We asked him to spend a little more time telling us about the work that he is doing with the communities that he adopted. The result is this article.
If you would like to listen to the podcast episode where he has an engaging conversation with Judith Germain on The Maverick Paradox Podcast, about hope through education – then click below.