Rockhouse Hotel from its establishment in 1994 was built on a commitment to sustainable tourism and playing an active, positive role in the community. The initial endeavors of the philanthropic mission were focused on the inner city in Kingston, Jamaica’s capital city. The hotel assisted the Trench Town Development Association, supported the Victory Basic School and helped create one of Kingston’s most iconic cultural destinations, the Trenchtown Cultural Yard. Locally in Negril the hotel took on ad hoc projects including in the early 2000’s a breakfast feeding program at the Negril All Age School. To better leverage its programs, the hotel leadership recognized it needed to set up a formal, tax exempt vehicle to have more enduring and meaningful impact, especially as it turned its full attention to its own neighborhood, in and around Negril.
Rockhouse Foundation was founded in 2004 as a New York based charity and IRS recognized 501(c)(3) with a broad mission of “transforming the places where Jamaican children learn and supporting the great people who teach them”. Since establishment Rockhouse Foundation has raised and expended over US$6 million upgrading, expanding and modernizing seven schools and the Negril Public Library.
Initially the focus was on improving infrastructure of public primary schools, recognizing the tremendous and widespread need, and as a visible and compelling way to establish the foundation’s credibility. These first project included the Negril All Age and Basic School, the Negril Library and the Little Bay All Age and Basic School.
A review of the first decade of work from 2004 to 2014 is depicted in this 10 year anniversary video:
The Foundation has expanded its original focus and has funded additional services and personnel in its partner schools such as free breakfast, ongoing maintenance and repairs, technology and additional teachers for better student / teacher ratios.
More recently, the Foundation determined to apply the bulk of its energy and resources to the early childhood space, beginning with the renovation and expansion of the Bunch of Stars Early Childhood Institute. In 2017, the foundation launched its most ambitious project to date with the development of the Savana-la-Mar Inclusive Infant Academy (Sav Inclusive), Jamaica’s first and only mixed ability, full inclusion model school in Westmoreland’s capital city of Savanna-la-Mar. Built from the ground up by the foundation, Sav Inclusive has a full enrollment of 165 children for the 2021/2022 school year with planning for an expansion into the primary and secondary years fully underway.
In July 2021 Jamaica’s Minister of Education, Fayval Williams, and Rockhouse Foundation President Peter Rose (pictured) signed a new joint commitment to expand the Sav Inclusive school through to 12th grade. Currently educating students from pre-K to 2nd grade school, this new commitment means that each year for the next decade the Foundation will be adding a new grade so the current 2nd graders have a path right through high school. The understanding also includes additional adjoining lands allocated from the Catholic Church for construction of the expanded primary and high schools.