Disney is an avid supporter of the local community, with grant programs such as Helping Kids Shine, which has awarded $10,000 to $100,000 to support programs that inspire creativity, encourage compassion and promote health and well-being of families.
A 2012 beneficiary of the program was Quest Inc., which is using the Disney grant to introduce children with special needs to media arts.
Quest Kids is based in Orlando, Florida and for over 50 years, has supported Central Floridians with developmental disabilities by offering choices and opportunities to live, learn, work and play.
Since the Walt Disney World Resort’s 1971 opening, it has honored the spirit of corporate citizenship by giving back to the local arts initiatives and the arts community, as a whole.
Disney uses a multifaceted approach in supporting the arts—from donating cash sponsorships and in-kind products to sharing the knowledge and expertise of its cast members—in order to make the most meaningful impact. Among these contributions is a $12.5 million capital investment in the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, one of Disney’s largest gift to a Central Florida arts organization.
In 2010, the Walt Disney World Resort gave more than $350,000 in cash and more than $215,000 in in-kind products to the local arts community, including $107,000 in grants through the Disney Helping Kids Shine program.
In promoting employee volunteerism, in 2010 Disney catalogued more than 6,700 volunteer service hours for arts and cultural organizations, with hundreds more in board of directors and pro bono service. Disney also offered cast members an outlet for their creativity and a chance to showcase their talents while performing great music for worthy causes; this “cast club” was known as Encore! Cast Choir and Orchestra.
Founded in 2002 and including several hundred singers, musicians, dancers and production team members, at least half of the group has jobs outside of the company’s entertainment division and aren’t performers by trade. In addition, Encore! donated funds from its ticket sales to local arts charities, raising more than $150,000 by 2011.
Disney also assists arts and cultural organizations with fundraising opportunities. Housed in a permanent theater located at the Walt Disney World Resort, Cirque du Soleil’s La Nouba company and Orlando Ballet teamed up for a project in which performers from both organizations worked together to choreograph 10 original movements. Presented as an evening fundraiser, the production’s proceeds benefited the Ballet and donations were matched by Cirque up to $10,000.
Committed to promoting arts education and youth programming, Disney’s trustee investment in United Arts of Central Florida helps ensure that nearly 550,000 public school students in Lake, Orange, Osceola, and Seminole counties benefit from arts and cultural field trips and immersive experiences. Disney further invests in the children of its community as the primary sponsor of A Gift For Music, an afterschool program. Since its 1999 inception the program has provided free instruction on stringed instruments to 7,200 students, and is currently offered in six Title I schools.
Photo: Disney Parks Blog