Adam Stewart, CEO of Sandals Resorts International (SRI), and Founder and Chairman, Hon. Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart, have announced the creation of The Sandals Foundation, the Caribbean resort company’s official philanthropic arm. The newly-established organization will aim to unite the region under one common goal: to elevate its people and protect its delicate ecosystem.Distinguished guests at Sandals Royal Caribbean Resort in Montego Bay, including Prime Minister Bruce Golding were on hand for the official announcement. Supporters of The Sandals Foundation - including Yellowbird Foundation and Flankers Peace and Justice Center - also presented generous donations to the cause during the ceremony. After receiving the CA$50,000 donation from Yellowbird Foundation - the largest donation given to The Sandals Foundation thus far - CEO Adam Stewart announced that it will contribute to building Jamaica’s first environmentally-friendly school designed specifically to Green Globe Certification standards at the Culloden Early Childhood Institution in Westmoreland.
According to Adam Stewart, the work of the Foundation is both a mission and passion for his family. “It is my great pleasure to put a formal and transparent face on the work my father [SRI founder and chairman Gordon “Butch” Stewart] began more than thirty years ago: to make the Caribbean a better place for the people who live and work here,” Stewart said. “We are the Caribbean. As my father taught me long ago, we have the means, and therefore the responsibility, to act.”
Sandals Resorts International Founder and Chairman Hon. Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart presented a cheque for JA$500,000 on behalf of the newly launched Sandals Foundation to Marilyn Nash of Flankers Peace and Justice Center
The Sandals Foundation seeks to harness the resources, talents, partnerships and awareness behind the Sandals Resorts brand to tackle a myriad of issues affecting the Caribbean under three broad headings: 1). community, 2). education and 3). environment. The Sandals Foundation is led by Adam Stewart, as well as a board of directors comprised of top SRI executives, who have been selected for their commitment to the Foundation’s mission, their range of experience, as well as their personal life experiences.
According to Adam Stewart, the Foundation will make a real difference in the Caribbean through “changing lives, shaping futures and lifting spirits” and will enable SRI to significantly increase its financial commitment to people and communities most in need from the current US$11 million (per year) by 2011.
Citing that education “provides the best opportunity for individuals as well as nations to improve their lot,” Adam Stewart emphasized that this will continue be a cornerstone of the Foundation’s work. All SRI resorts across the Caribbean are required to adopt schools and, in some cases, entire communities to ensure that the message of health, safety, environmental concern and opportunity is filtered throughout. From procuring new computer labs and building additional classrooms, to funding scholarships for top performing students and hosting career days, resort staff members continually share their resources with the Caribbean’s youth. Under the Foundation, mentorship programs will also be expanded and fostered further to encourage and nurture the success of local residents.
Healthcare and empowerment are also top community priorities for The Sandals Foundation. The company sponsors several health clinics to help ensure that all members of the community have access to proper healthcare. Each year, the company supports the international humanitarian group, “Great Shape 1000 Smiles Project,” that provides communities in Jamaica with free dental care.
Education programmes aimed at healthy living are also part of the Foundation’s work including HIV/AIDS awareness, senior citizen wellness and youth arts and sports programs. Hospitality training programs for resident citizens and agricultural partnerships with local farmers are among the empowerment programs that teach lifelong skills and provide economic opportunity.
The final component to the Foundation’s mission is the environment and here, Sandals Resorts has a long tradition of protecting the region it calls home. Today, all Sandals Resorts and Beaches Resorts are certified by Green Globe- the worldwide benchmarking and certification program for sustainable travel and tourism. This was achieved in concert with the local community where SRI, and now The Sandals Foundation, work tirelessly to restore, clean and maintain the region’s delicate coral reef; educate fishermen on environmentally-friendly fishing practices; and regularly conduct beach clean-ups and tree-planting programs.
In December 2008, Sandals Negril Beach Resort & Spa became the world’s first and sole recipient of the inaugural Green Globe Platinum Certification Award. Green Globe recognized that Sandals Negril, which was also the first all-inclusive resort to earn Green Globe Certification, had reached an entirely new level of achievement in its sustainable tourism practices.
Guests of Sandals Resorts, Beaches Resorts, The Royal Plantation Collection or Grand Pineapple Beach Resorts may also participate in the work of the Foundation through: cash donations made at the resorts; special purchases in the gift shop, with a percentage of proceeds going to the Foundation’s efforts; or community work, where guests can roll up their sleeves and donate some of their vacation time to work alongside resort team members out in the community.