Rockhouse Foundation’s benefit dinner held on November 22, and hosted by chairman Paul Salmon and president Peter Rose at Joe’s Pub at The Public Theater in downtown New York was a record success. Attendees enjoyed a multi-course dinner from chefs Andre Fowles & Kahari Woolcock of Miss Lily’s, along with a lively reggae performance from the legendary Shaggy. 

The benefit raised over US $300,000 for the Rockhouse Foundation, which works to transform childhood education for Jamaica’s students and teachers. Funds raised were primarily targeted for the expansion of the Sav Inclusive School, built by the Foundation from the ground up, where typical learning children and those with disabilities are taught side-by-side in a full inclusion setting. Sav Inclusive opened in 2017 with 30 three-year olds and now has an enrollment of 165 children age three through grade 2. It recently signed an agreement with Jamaica’s Ministry of Education to expand through high school on the same location.

The evening also celebrated a US $1 million commitment to the work of the Foundation from philanthropists Pat McKee and Julie Russo. Pat and Julie hail from Raleigh North Carolina and are longstanding visitors to Jamaica who wanted to make a significant impact on the lives of the children and families on an island they had come to love over many years. The $1 million pledge is the largest in the Foundation’s 18 year history and will constitute cornerstone underwriting for Sav Inclusive’s expansion.  Additionally, Julie Russo will provide professional development for teachers at the school thanks to her many years experience focused on math education in the early grades.  

To date, the Rockhouse Foundation has donated over $6.5M transforming the education system in Western Jamaica. Jamaica’s former Minister of Education, the Honorable Ronald Thwaites, was the keynote speaker, and his presentation included greetings from the Permanent Secretary of Education, Maureen Dwyer, detailing the immeasurable impact that the Foundation has had on the Jamaican school system. 

Fashion designer Nanette Lepore and culinary personalities Gail Simmons, Andy Baraghani, and Nilou Motamed were among the more than 150 guests in attendance who danced to live music, bid on luxurious raffle packages, and dined on Miss Lily’s celebrated Caribbean cuisine. 

The proceeds from the event support the Rockhouse Foundation’s “Teach Di Yutes Campaign 2021-2022”, the online GoFundMe established to primarily fund the planned expansion at the Sav Inclusive School schedule for Summer 2022. In addition to supporting our overall programing at our partner schools, funds from this campaign will be going towards our expansion of the primary school at Sav Inclusive, building new classrooms, therapy and specials rooms and administrative offices for 3rd and 4th grade.



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