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Alan Lewis

OAT wins Travel + Leisure's Global Vision Award for Leadership

We're proud to share some good news with you—we have won a 2013 Global Vision Award for Leadership from Travel + Leisure. This award recognizes the outstanding efforts of tour operators, hotels, and cruise lines that are transforming the world through travel. This is the second time that we received a Global Vision Award—in 2010, we received one for our community contributions worldwide.


In the Aftermath of Hurricane Sandy

Hurricane Sandy, one of the most devastating storms on record, hit the East Coast in late October 2012, with much of the destruction occurring in New York City and surrounding areas. Grand Circle Foundation has donated $10,000 to the American Red Cross to assist the relief efforts—but with New York just a few hours away from our Boston headquarters, we knew we needed to do something more personal, as well.


The Foundation, an associate, and a community come together for children in Tanzania

In September, Grand Circle associate Ricky Regan traveled to Tanzania to witness the delivery of two smokeless cooking pots and ten teachers' desks and chairs—a donation made possible by Grand Circle Foundation and the Alison Mae Regan Memorial Fund (AMRMF), which Ricky founded in memory of his daughter. The delivery of this project has impressed the school and village so much that they committed themselves to provide materials to build a kitchen within the next three months.


After seven years as a partner, Banjika Secondary School is ready to stand on its own

We are honored to have been a part of building Banjika Secondary School in Tanzania from a mere idea into an institution that now can stand on its own. A special ceremony marks the finale of our seven-year relationship.


Grand Circle Foundation funds weather-resistant furniture for a Vietnamese orphanage

Since 2002, Grand Circle Foundation has donated more than $60,000 to Vietnam's Minh Tu Orphanage, which offers orphaned children food, shelter, education, and—most importantly—love. Our latest donation this year provided new stainless-steel furniture to weather the region's monsoon seasons.


Foundation arranges a special visit to a school for the blind in Havana, Cuba

A visit to a school for the blind in Havana has unique meaning for an inspiring traveler on the inaugural departure of Grand Circle Foundation's Cuba: A Bridge Between Cultures People-to-People Program.


Foundation participant in Cuba featured in Gloucester County Times

Dr. Ross Beitzel, professor emeritus of Gloucester County College in New Jersey, experienced the Foundation's Cuba: A Bridge Between Cultures program in March 2012. He shared his impressions of this "fantastic learning experience" in his local newspaper.


Children's Orchestra Opens Boutique to Become More Self-Sustaining

In Ecuador, the Sinamune Disabled Children's Orchestra made a creative proposal for a souvenir boutique. The store can help the orchestra to sustain itself, while also teaching students valuable life skills, such as producing textiles, organizing workshops, and managing money.


Our Next Generation of Leaders

Grand Circle Foundation's teen leadership program enters its fourth year

We're pleased to announce the Next Generation Leaders Class of 2012, a group of eight college-bound seniors from underserved Boston communities. The promising group will focus on skill development and leadership during a paid summer internship at Grand Circle Corporation and then enjoy a nine-day trip to Tanzania.


Update on Giving to Japan

A letter from Alan & Harriet to those who supported rescue efforts

When a devastating earthquake and tsunami struck Japan on March 11, 2011, we contacted Grand Circle's regional office in Japan to determine how best to help. Associates in Japan immediately recommended Ashinaga, a Tokyo-based nonprofit organization. One year later, we reflect on this tragedy and look toward the future.  


Next Generation Leaders Reunite

Graduates of the Foundation's Ground-breaking Teen Leadership Program Share How It Has Changed Their Lives

The Next Generation Leaders program has run twice since its 2007 inaugural (2010 and 2011) and is now an annual event on the Foundation calendar. On January 14, 2012, graduates from all three classes gathered to share advice about school, brainstorm ideas on how to succeed, and simply update each other about their lives.  


Grand Circle Foundation Launches First Program to Cuba

Historic, fully authorized "People to People" program departed November 8

In August, Grand Circle Foundation was pleased to announce that it had been licensed by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), the branch of the U.S. Treasury that regulates travel to Cuba, to offer fully authorized "People-to-People" programs to Cuba.


Announcing Our 2011 Associates' Fund Recipients

Grand Circle associates select 5 worthy winners from 16 deserving nonprofits

Grand Circle Foundation is proud to give back to destinations along the path of Grand Circle Travel and OAT itineraries around the world. And we're also proud to give back close to home. At our Boston headquarters, the spirit of community service thrives, as volunteers give back through food banks, homeless shelters, and charitable events throughout the Boston area.


2011 Corporate Citizenship Summit

Grand Circle named one of Massachusetts' Top Charitable Contributors at the event, which is hosted by Boston Business Journal

On September 9, 2011, hundreds of guests and honorees gathered at Boston's Renaissance Waterfront Hotel for the annual Corporate Citizenship Summit, hosted by Boston Business Journal and sponsored in part by Grand Circle Foundation. Now in its sixth year, the event celebrates Massachusetts corporations that have made philanthropy a core tenet of their business philosophy.



Lessons in Leadership for the Next Generation

By learning about life in Tanzania, our 2011 Next Generation Leaders learned even more about themselves

With each summer comes one of Grand Circle Foundation's most rewarding annual events: the Next Generation Leaders Program, begun by Harriet Lewis in 2007. No longer satisfied by simply awarding scholarships, Harriet wanted to create a more lasting impact on the lives of promising college-bound seniors. "Academic excellence lays the foundation for success," explains Harriet, "but there are so many other experiences that I consider valuable, like community service, professional employment, and, of course, international travel."




Announcing our 2011 Associates' Fund Grant Recipients

Grand Circle associates selected five worthy winners from dozens of qualified applicants

Through the Associates' Fund, a team of associates is empowered to make the determination of how $25,000, provided by Grand Circle Foundation, will be allocated among various local charitable organizations. These organizations must be Boston-based nonprofits with an operating budget of $3 million or less, and grants are awarded for use on a specific project, rather than general administrative or operating costs.




Inspiring Corporate Social Responsibility Worldwide

Grand Circle hosted 20 MBA candidates from Spain's Basque region, courtesy of Boston College's Irish Institute

Last year, the Irish Institute brought a group of CEOs, managers, and directors from Ireland and Northern Ireland for a seminar at Grand Circle, which focused on Alan and Harriet's unique business model. The event was such a success, Brad Googins, Ph.D., an associate professor at Boston College's Carroll School of Management, recommended Grand Circle to host another discussion around corporate social responsibility.



Danza Contemporanea de Cuba: Historic U.S. Tour

Grand Circle Foundation Sponsors the Grand Finale of the World-Renowned Contemporary Dance Company's First-Ever Visit to the U.S.

On Thursday, May 26, Danza Contemporanea de Cuba, Cuba's leading modern dance company, performed the grand finale of its first-ever U.S. tour at the Strand Theatre in Boston. Grand Circle Foundation was among the sponsors of the event.



Impressions of Israel

Laura Chavanne, Creative Director for Grand Circle Foundation, shares firsthand impressions of Lakia, Israel

Previous generations of semi-nomadic Bedouins actually preferred to live outside of society. Today, however, with modern civilization encroaching on their borders, they find themselves faced with the challenge of assimilating into a culture that has, quite literally, grown up without them.


Little School, Big Generosity

After visiting the Laxmi School in Nepal, Grand Circle associates were determined to make a difference

While vacationing in Nepal in November of 2010, Maury Peterson, Vice President of Grand Circle Foundation, delivered a very special gift to the Laxmi School: a donation of $6500—enough to fund crucial repairs. The money had been raised by a group of nine Grand Circle associates, who had traveled to Nepal together back in April of 2010.


Announcing the 2011 Community Advisory Group

Four new members join the Foundation's coalition of community partners, who are working together to create a better Boston

Beginning in 2011, Alan and Harriet have launched an ambitious new plan for the Community Advisory Group (CAG). Between 2012 and 2016, they hope to measurably increase high school and college graduation rates amongst students from Boston's Allston, Dorchester, Mattapan, and Roxbury neighborhoods who participate in CAG programs.


Grand Circle Foundation 2010 Associates' Fund Recipients Announced

Empowering associates to give back within the Boston community

Each year, Grand Circle associates help select Boston-area nonprofits pursue innovative new projects through allocations from Grand Circle Foundation's Associates' Fund. See who was chosen to receive one-year grants of $5,000 each this year.


"Going Places" at Grand Circle Gallery

Grand Circle Gallery welcomes longtime Foundation partners Artists for Humanity for a special exhibit through January 15

On November 11, 2010, Grand Circle Gallery and Artists for Humanity (AFH) teamed up to present "Going Places," an exhibit that features 50 pieces of hand-painted, recycled luggage, Keds slip-on sneakers, and messenger bags, painted by young artists participating in the AFH program. The show will run through January 15, 2011.


OAT Wins 2010 Global Vision Award

Travel + Leisure magazine recognized OAT and Grand Circle Foundation in the "Philanthropic Travel" category

In its sixth year, the Global Vision Awards honor companies and organizations that are making a difference in the traveler's world. Details are included in the magazine's November issue, currently on newsstands. OAT and the additional 18 winners were selected from nearly 150 applicants in five different categories.


Saluting Travel Partners Committed to Social Change

Seven long-term travel vendors will support Foundation projects in 30 countries through generous cash and in-kind donations

Having been in the travel business for 25 years, Alan and Harriet have cultivated strong long-term partnerships with many companies—and this past month, seven of them chose to take their partnership one step forward by joining Grand Circle Foundation to create positive social change worldwide.


The Case for Corporate Philanthropy

Boston Business Journal, September 10, 2010

In the spirit of today's Corporate Philanthropy Summit hosted by the Boston Business Journal, we would like to suggest that corporate philanthropy is not only good for your company's spirit and soul, but it is also fundamental to your organization's long-term success.



2010 Corporate Citizenship Summit

Foundation Chairman Alan Lewis both gives and receives honors at the event, which is hosted by Boston Business Journal

On September 10, 2010, more than 700 guests and honorees gathered at the Renaissance Waterfront Hotel for the Corporate Citizenship Summit, hosted by Boston Business Journal. Now in its fifth year, the event celebrates Massachusetts corporations that have made philanthropy a core tenet of their business philosophy.

Grand Circle Gallery Opens to the Public

Free gallery of vintage travel posters and photography is the latest addition to culturally thriving Fort Point neighborhood

On July 23, Alan and Harriet opened a free gallery at company headquarters, featuring vintage travel posters and other travel-related artwork and photography. "We welcome our fellow Bostonians and visitors to view our collection," say Alan and Harriet. "We have really enjoyed working in the Fort Point Channel District for the past 25 years and seeing it evolve into a thriving cultural destination, so we're particularly pleased to be able to offer another reason to visit the neighborhood."

Teeing Off in the Fight Against NF

$100k grant honors longtime supporters of neurofibromatosis research—including Alan & Harriet Lewis

While the NF Golf Tournament is a special event for Alan and Harriet every year, this year was especially important—and not just because it marked the 25th anniversary of both the tournament itself and the Lewis' sponsorship of it. Karen Peluso and NF Inc., Northeast commemorated the milestone with a $100,000 "Champion Grant" to Harvard Medical School in honor of several longtime supporters: Alan and Harriet; former Boston Celtics stars K.C. Jones and Tommy Heinsohn; and former Red Sox star Dwight Evans and his wife, Susan.


Grand Circle Foundation and Travelers Donate $500,000 To Red Cross Relief Efforts In Haiti


Travelers Donate $350,000 Following Grand Circle Foundation's Pledge to Match

Press Release January 18, 2010

January 18, 2010 (Boston, MA)—Alan Lewis, Chairman of Grand Circle Corporation, which owns Overseas Adventure Travel and Grand Circle Travel, today reported that $500,000 has been raised by Grand Circle Foundation and travelers to support Red Cross relief efforts in Haiti. Alan and his wife Harriet, Grand Circle's co-chair and chair of the Foundation, presented the $500,000 check today to Deborah C. Jackson, CEO of the American Red Cross of Massachusetts Bay.

From all walks of life, donations pour in

Boston Globe, January 15, 2010

They followed news accounts of the devastation in Haiti, horrified. And then they gave to a country that only a few had ever visited, and many knew little about. From $5 sent via cellphone text messages to $1 million from the founder of a Boston construction company, money and other assistance from the region poured in yesterday.

GCF and Travelers Donate $400k to Haiti

Travelers Donate $250,000 Following Grand Circle Foundation's Pledge to Match

Press Release January 15, 2010

January 15, 2010 (Boston, MA)—Alan Lewis, Chairman of Grand Circle Corporation, which owns Overseas Adventure Travel and Grand Circle Travel, today reported that $400,000 has been raised by Grand Circle Foundation and travelers to support International Red Cross relief efforts in Haiti.

Adding Value to Nonprofits

Boston Business Journal November 13, 2009

by Leonard A. Schlesinger and Alan Lewis

Now, more than ever, our communities depend on social enterprises to provide services for those in need and to tackle a host of difficult issues. These nonprofit groups often depend on volunteer board members who are not always sure of how they are adding value.
Business leaders who serve on boards often ask themselves how they — and the organizations they support with their time, treasure and talent — can do more. This problem was recently debated at a meeting of local CEOs convened by the Boston Business Journal. Some of the conclusions are easy to act on, some much more complicated:

Social Entrepreneurs Will Lead the Way

Boston Business Journal
September 11, 2009

by Alan and Harriet Lewis

There are two quotes that resonate with us during these challenging times. They come from two men who couldn't be more different. The first is from renowned physicist Albert Einstein, who stated, "In the middle of difficulty there is always opportunity."

The second is from Alan's dad, a WWII veteran and lifelong fighter for the underdog who became an "unconventional" businessman. It was he who advised Alan that "the window of opportunity is only open a short time, so you need to push as much change through it as fast as you can. And don't blow it."

Philanthropy Works

Travel Weekly
by Alan E. Lewis, Chairman, Grand Circle Corporation

I applaud Travel Weekly for its recent coverage of philanthropy in the travel industry. With the exception of this publication and a couple of consumer travel magazines, there's been very little coverage about our industry's efforts— and obligation— to give back to the countries we explore. This is unfortunate because many in our industry, such as Micato Safaris, Lindblad Expeditions, International Expedition, and others, have "given back," whether through charitable organizations or conservation efforts.

Get to Give

Philanthropy World
Volume 9, Issue 3

Bostonians Harriet and Alan Lewis inspire philanthropy on a global scale through travel

Harriet and Alan Lewis are an extraordinary example of a couple with a vision for business and philanthropy fused with a passion for learning. He's an entrepreneur; she's a teacher— and their life together is a quest to create a new path. Their company, Grand Circle Corporation, is the number one company in the United States providing international travel, adventure, and discovery for Americans over 50. The company's nonprofit branch, Grand Circle Foundation, gives back to the world their travelers explore by supporting community service projects where their forty worldwide offices are located— be it right around the corner from their Boston headquarters, or in the hill tribes of Thailand, north of their Chiang Mai office.

Entrepreneurs Need Mentoring in Philanthropy

Boston Business Journal
Volume 20, Number 43

A recent report by the Catalogue of Philanthropy puts Massachusetts' taxpayers at the very bottom in terms of individual giving.

While our corporations do better— ranking 14th nationally, according to the Foundation Center in Washington, D.C. — critics have pointed out that in a state with the third highest per-capita income, individuals and businesses alike are falling far short of what they should be doing.

Much of the criticism targets entrepreneurial companies and so-called "dot-com millionaires." In my opinion, philanthropy should be part of the entrepreneur's vision from the beginning, but the commitment needs to grow as the company does.