Carnival Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Carnival Corporation & plc, is donating $5 million to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Miami to create the Carnival Center for Excellence. The donation -- timed to celebrate National Mentoring Month -- marks the largest gift ever received by the organization's Miami chapter.
The Carnival Center for Excellence building at 550 Le Jeune Road in Miami will serve as the headquarters for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Miami and will provide facilities to support ongoing mentoring and educational activities for Big Brothers Big Sisters’ participants, often referred to as "Littles."
"Big Brothers Big Sisters of Miami makes a huge impact in the lives of so many kids in our community, and for years it’s been Carnival Corporation's goal to take our longstanding relationship and make an even greater difference," said Linda Coll, Carnival Foundation's director. "The Carnival Center for Excellence will enable us to greatly expand the services both the Carnival Scholarship and Mentoring Program and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Miami can provide to students and families in South Florida."
"We are a proud supporter of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Miami, and it is an honor to help them secure a permanent home at the Carnival Center for Excellence," said Arnold Donald, president and CEO of Carnival Corporation, the world's largest travel and leisure company with its headquarters based in Miami. "Through this facility and the contributions of our volunteer mentors, we will continue to work together to make a real difference in the lives of deserving South Florida students for many years to come."
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Miami closed on the purchase of the building Tuesday, Jan. 20, and is scheduled to relocate there in the first quarter of 2016. The building will provide office space for more than 50 agency staff members, as well as house a digital learning center, library, meeting and tutoring facilities, and more. Various additional services will be rolled out in phases, with the digital learning center and library slated to be operational by the time the building opens. Other services and facilities such as tutoring and family classes will be introduced during the first year.
"We are honored to be selected by the Carnival Foundation for this very generous investment in shaping the lives of Miami’s kids," said Lydia Muniz, president and CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Miami. "Big Brothers Big Sisters of Miami's purpose is to provide a personal hero to every child in need. The new Carnival Center for Excellence at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Miami will enable us to awaken new possibilities for more of Miami's kids, and to ultimately make this city one where kids can build a brighter future."
The building was selected because it is conveniently located on a major thoroughfare with access to public transportation and free ground-level parking. BB&T Bank is serving as the financing bank for the acquisition from Keystone Property Management.
Carnival Foundation's signature initiative, the Carnival Scholarship and Mentoring Program, pairs a Carnival employee with a South Florida high school student matched by Big Brothers Big Sisters of Miami. Currently, 95 Carnival management team members mentor 95 Miami-Dade County high school students through the in-the-workplace program sponsored by Carnival in partnership with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Miami.
The program also awards four-year college scholarships to 15 participating students every year. For the past 12 years, Carnival Foundation has purchased STARS scholarships representing a collective value of more than $2.1 million. Since 2010, 75 scholarships have been awarded, and in 2014 several students from the first group of recipients graduated college.