“As a company dedicated to serving our community and as a hotelier who has been blessed beyond my wildest dreams, it is my privilege to commit much of our resources to giving back.” – Harris Rosen
Take a drive or stroll a walkway in Orlando, and local entrepreneur and philanthropist Harris Rosen’s footprints will be there … leading the community with his good works and business acumen. Subtle though the signs of his generosity may be, the impact of his 45-year-old local hospitality company is indelible. Slowly changing our community one good deed at a time.
“Whether we live in Lake Nona, Dr. Phillips, or Parramore, we all call Orlando home,” said Lake Nona resident Janice Abrew-Coriano, who also is the Communications, Special Events & Community Affairs Manager, Rosen Hotels & Resorts. “I’m so proud to work for a company and a business owner who puts people first for the betterment of our community and us all.”
Having applied business savvy with tireless grit, Rosen’s now eight greater International Drive-area hotels have been providing thousands of jobs annually to Orlando residents since starting his company in 1974. In addition, his $18 million donation helped open the doors in 2004 of the Rosen College of Hospitality Management at UCF. Ideally located in the tourist corridor, the Rosen College provides an unparalleled education and talent pool to local residents and the hospitality industry, having been named a top-five hospitality school of the world.
However, Rosen’s commitment extends beyond physical structures and expands into the hearts and lives of his family of Rosen associates and the community at large, all of whom he considers family.
Since 1993, Rosen has been providing free daycare and college and vocational school education (including tuition, books, room and board) for the once under-served community of Tangelo Park near International Drive. Rosen has promised this will continue in perpetuity until the homes in Tangelo Park are “valued at a million dollars each. Then I might stop.”
In 2016, Rosen adopted another similar community, Parramore in downtown Orlando, providing the same education offers. As of 2018, between both programs, a total of 525 high school graduates have been eligible for the scholarships. It is estimated that for every dollar Rosen has spent on the Tangelo Park educational programs, seven have come back into the community.
“I understand what it is like to grow up with nothing,” said Rosen of his meager beginnings as a Depression Era child, living in New York City’s Lower East Side. “I was lucky enough to create my own American dream, and I wanted to make sure other young adults received the same chance. Many of these students hadn’t even considered going to college because they didn’t know how they were going to pay for it.”
Rosen’s own associates receive free college scholarships for themselves and their children after three years of service. Free family-friendly events like carnivals and holiday reviews are the norm. As is one of the city’s – if not the country’s – most affordable self-created and self-funded healthcare programs, RosenCare, with components soon to be adapted by the Osceola County School District (to learn more, visit RosenCare.com). All the while, inspiring his associates to pay it forward.
“Mr. Rosen’s dedication to philanthropy brings pride to our associates and inspires them to get in on the efforts,” said Abrew-Coriano, a 17-year Rosen associate. “While many of them participate in company-sponsored volunteer projects, some also seek their own opportunities to make a difference through local nonprofits or church groups.”
Most every weekend, there is a race, a run, a Habitat Home build, or something unexpected like a supply drive for hurricane victims where Rosen associates – from GMs and room attendants to bartenders and sales associates – come together for the betterment of others. Associates represent the company in among more than 200 community service projects and boards.
“Mr. Rosen’s 15-year relationship with the Miss America’s Outstanding Teen Organization and his support through his scholarships have certainly left an indelible ‘footprint’ that few will ever fill,” said Donna Bozarth, Chairman of the Board, Miss America’s Outstanding Teen Organization.
Reflecting on his 45 years serving the Orlando community and a milestone 80th birthday this month on Sept. 9 – celebrated with a family skydiving excursion at Fort Bragg, no less – Rosen shares, “Education has the ability to transform a person, which can positively affect our community for decades into the future. No matter how we choose to contribute, I believe we all have a responsibility to do our part in keeping our city vibrant and one we’re proud to call home, for many years to come.”
To learn more about Rosen Hotels & Resorts’ charitable efforts, employment opportunities and more, visit RosenHotels.com.