Harris Rosen grew up in the lower eastside of Manhattan, in the Bowery District, during a time when poverty filled the city. As a child, he did not understand these conditions. The day Harris and his brother overheard a tourist say, “So this is how they live,” is the day Mr. Rosen’s perspective changed. “My brother and I didn’t know what she meant,” he says. “Mom had to explain to us that not everyone lives this way. And if we didn’t want to live here for the rest of our lives, we had to work hard in school and get a good education.” From that point on, education became the forefront of his plans.
Decades and a university degree later, Harris Rosen found himself in the position to share that dream of education pulling people out of poverty. His first hand in improving education started in Tangelo Park back in 1993. The program, detailed below, was so successful, that he has started a duplicate program in Parramore. What has resulted in Tangelo Park is a wonderful success story, which Mr. Rosen hopes to repeat in Parramore. A staunch believer in education being the solution to poverty, we can look at the statistics of success in these neighborhoods and see proof that Mr. Rosen’s theories are solid.
Working with the community to help provide a brighter future for the children of Tangelo and Parramore communities presented further opportunities to spread hope through education. Mr. Rosen continued on his mission to ensure these children achieve more than a high school degree. High school graduates from the Tangelo and Parramore Community may qualify for full compensation of in-state tuition (and more) through the Harris Rosen Foundation Scholarships. Scholarship recipients also include Rosen Hotels & Resorts’ dependents.
Mr. Rosen’s vision for offering hope through education expanded. First came an important partnership with the University of Central Florida to build the Rosen College of Hospitality Management, which provided students wishing to enter the hospitality industry a campus and veritable laboratory in the epicenter of Orlando’s convention and tourism district. Furthermore, Mr. Rosen worked with his alma mater to establish participation in the Cornell Alternative Spring Break Program where Cornell students spend their vacation working with kids in the Tangelo Park community.
Education is the means—the bootstrap—that gives our youth the ability to pull themselves up through life. Through these programs, Mr. Rosen continues to dream big and acknowledges how far these children and communities have come. “Hope is infused into the community, and children are now going to college like crazy and graduating at numbers that are unprecedented—78 percent of our youngsters who start college graduate in four years. That’s unbelievable.”