Skip to main content
Explore the site

About The Foundation

Letter from Bill and Dick Marriott

Bill and Dick Marriott

Thank you for visiting our site and taking the time to learn about The J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation. For 50 years, our family’s Foundation has been dedicated to helping others by supporting extraordinary nonprofit organizations that:

  • Provide civic and human services;
  • Foster educational achievement;
  • Expand opportunities for youth and adults;
  • Develop the next generation of hospitality leaders; and
  • Lead innovation in health and medicine.

We are honored to showcase many of these organizations on this site. As you read their stories, we hope you’ll be inspired—as we are—by the work they are doing and the differences they are making in our community and around the world.

Our father was a sheep herder in Utah in the early 1920s when an English professor, Aaron Tracy, saw his potential and helped him enroll in college and find jobs to pay his way while earning his degree. Without his college education, he might never have traveled to Washington, D.C., to open the nine-seat A&W root beer stand that grew into one of the world’s leading hospitality companies. Our parents, for whom the Foundation is named, were generous, giving of their means and themselves. We are committed to carrying on their legacy by giving others opportunity—like Aaron Tracy gave our father—to achieve their most ambitious dreams.

We know that giving people opportunity involves education, and much more. It’s ensuring that all people, regardless of their physical or intellectual abilities, can lead independent lives. It’s having access to quality medical care and lifesaving medicine. It’s being able to raise your family in a secure home and provide your children with nutritious food. This is the work our grantees and partners are passionately engaged in, inspiring us and honoring the legacy of our parents.

Thank you for your interest in our family’s Foundation. 

Warm regards,
Bill and Dick Marriott

 

Our Legacy: About the Founders

J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott

J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott believed that if you give to worthy causes or support community needs, people will be empowered and positive change will occur. When J. Willard was a young man, he experienced this kind of giving on a personal level. He had left school to help on his family’s farm and didn’t have the high school credits or money to enroll in college. That’s when Aaron Tracy, a teacher and administrator at Weber College, stepped in. In 1921, Aaron gave him an opportunity—the support and push he needed to pursue higher education. Aaron enrolled him in classes and helped him find odd jobs around the college that would pay his full tuition. When J. Willard graduated from Weber, Aaron Tracy—who had been named president of the college—shook his hand and said, “Forward, my boy, forward.”

J. Willard went on to the University of Utah and graduated in 1926. His dream was to build his own business and give others the kind of opportunity Aaron Tracy had given him. He married Alice Sheets in 1927 and one day later, they drove to Washington, D.C., in a Model T Ford to open a nine-stool A&W root beer stand. For the next 58 years, they focused on growing their business, while raising a family and giving back to the community. With the help of their two sons, J.W. “Bill” Jr. and Richard, they built the company from a root beer stand, to the successful chain of Hot Shoppes casual family restaurants, to one of the world’s largest hospitality companies. Today, Marriott International has more than 4,100 properties in 79 countries and territories, with more than 361,000 people working worldwide at managed or franchised properties and corporate offices.

J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott shared a passion for education, the arts, politics, and numerous other causes. Much of this involvement was spearheaded by Alice. She was a pioneer who paved the way for women in business and in the community. The timeline below shares a snapshot of the family’s civic and philanthropic engagements.

To learn more about J. Willard and Alice, visit the Marriott International website and timeline.

The J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation Timeline

December 1965

The J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation is established. For the next 20 years, the Foundation focused on targeted giving to the local community until J. Willard Marriott, Sr. passed away in 1985 and the Foundation received a portion of his estate.

1965

The J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation is established. For the next 20 years, the Foundation focused on targeted giving to the local community until J. Willard Marriott, Sr. passed away in 1985 and the Foundation received a portion of his estate.

November 1984

National Theatre offers free Saturday morning performances for children. This program continues today and is sponsored exclusively by the Foundation and Marriott International.

1984

National Theatre offers free Saturday morning performances for children. This program continues today and is sponsored exclusively by the Foundation and Marriott International.

January 1986-1998

J.W. Marriott, Jr. serves for 12 years as a member of the Mayo Clinic Board of Trustees. These were pivotal years in Mayo’s history, which included expansion to Florida, Arizona, and the regional Mayo Clinic Health System.

January 1986-1998

J.W. Marriott, Jr. serves for 12 years as a member of the Mayo Clinic Board of Trustees. These were pivotal years in Mayo’s history, which included expansion to Florida, Arizona, and the regional Mayo Clinic Health System.

December 1987

Alice S. Marriott receives the first Lifetime Achievement Award from the Arthritis Foundation in recognition of her years of service as a member of the National Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases Advisory Council, as well as on the board of the Metropolitan Washington chapter of the Arthritis Foundation.

December 1987

Alice S. Marriott receives the first Lifetime Achievement Award from the Arthritis Foundation in recognition of her years of service as a member of the National Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases Advisory Council, as well as on the board of the Metropolitan Washington chapter of the Arthritis Foundation.

July 1988

Brigham Young University’s business school is named the Marriott School of Management in recognition of the Foundation and the Marriott family’s profound support of the school.

July 1988

Brigham Young University’s business school is named the Marriott School of Management in recognition of the Foundation and the Marriott family’s profound support of the school.

October 1988

J. Willard Marriott, Sr. is awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom posthumously. Alice Marriott (pictured here) accepts the award that recognizes those individuals who have made “an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors."

October 1988

J. Willard Marriott, Sr. is awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom posthumously. Alice Marriott (pictured here) accepts the award that recognizes those individuals who have made “an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors."

June 1989

The Foundation helped establish the Marriott Foundation for People with Disabilities, a public charity whose mission is to enhance employment opportunities for young people with disabilities. Richard E. Marriott has served as Chairman of the Board since its founding, and in that time, MFPD’s Bridges from School to Work program has served more than 20,000 young people.

June 1989

The Foundation helped establish the Marriott Foundation for People with Disabilities, a public charity whose mission is to enhance employment opportunities for young people with disabilities. Richard E. Marriott has served as Chairman of the Board since its founding, and in that time, MFPD’s Bridges from School to Work program has served more than 20,000 young people.

June 1996

The Foundation makes the first of several grants to support the renovation and operation of the Marriott Library at the University of Utah. J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott were both alumni of The University of Utah.

June 1996

The Foundation makes the first of several grants to support the renovation and operation of the Marriott Library at the University of Utah. J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott were both alumni of The University of Utah.

May 2000

Richard E. Marriott becomes Chairman of the Foundation’s Board of Trustees. He is joined on the board by his brother, J.W. “Bill” Marriott, Jr., and his nephew, Stephen Garff Marriott (pictured here).

May 2000

Richard E. Marriott becomes Chairman of the Foundation’s Board of Trustees. He is joined on the board by his brother, J.W. “Bill” Marriott, Jr., and his nephew, Stephen Garff Marriott (pictured here).

August 2000

The Foundation plays a leading role in bringing pandas back to the National Zoo. This has since become one of the most beloved attractions for visitors to Washington, D.C.

August 2000

The Foundation plays a leading role in bringing pandas back to the National Zoo. This has since become one of the most beloved attractions for visitors to Washington, D.C.

September 2001

The Foundation creates its first disaster relief fund to support the victims of the World Trade Center attacks on September 11. Subsequent relief funds were created to support the victims of Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy.

September 2001

The Foundation creates its first disaster relief fund to support the victims of the World Trade Center attacks on September 11. Subsequent relief funds were created to support the victims of Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy.

October 2001

The Foundation establishes a research endowment with the American Heart Association to advance research in the area of heart disease, specifically related to women.

October 2001

The Foundation establishes a research endowment with the American Heart Association to advance research in the area of heart disease, specifically related to women.

December 2004

J.W. Marriott, Jr. co-chairs the campaign for the Capital Area Food Bank’s (CAFB) new facility and the Foundation provides a lead gift. Completed in 2012, the facility allows CAFB to distribute 42 million pounds of food a year to more than 500,000 people.

December 2004

J.W. Marriott, Jr. co-chairs the campaign for the Capital Area Food Bank’s (CAFB) new facility and the Foundation provides a lead gift. Completed in 2012, the facility allows CAFB to distribute 42 million pounds of food a year to more than 500,000 people.

January 2006

The Foundation focuses its efforts on enhancing hospitality education in the U.S. through support of state of the art facilities and learning environments at top collegiate hospitality and culinary programs, including Cornell University, Purdue University, and the Culinary Institute of America.

January 2006

The Foundation focuses its efforts on enhancing hospitality education in the U.S. through support of state of the art facilities and learning environments at top collegiate hospitality and culinary programs, including Cornell University, Purdue University, and the Culinary Institute of America.

July 2011

The Foundation pledged its financial support to the 9/11 Memorial Museum, and Marriott International donated the company flag that flew on top of the Marriott World Trade Center Hotel when it collapsed on September 11, 2001.

July 2011

The Foundation pledged its financial support to the 9/11 Memorial Museum, and Marriott International donated the company flag that flew on top of the Marriott World Trade Center Hotel when it collapsed on September 11, 2001.

May 2013

The Foundation announced the Marriott China Hospitality Education Initiative (CHEI), a multi-faceted program that provides tools, resources, and real-world experiences for hospitality educators and students in China. Inspiring educators, enhancing education, and changing lives.

May 2013

The Foundation announced the Marriott China Hospitality Education Initiative (CHEI), a multi-faceted program that provides tools, resources, and real-world experiences for hospitality educators and students in China. Inspiring educators, enhancing education, and changing lives.

November 2013

Grants to Columbia University, Massachusetts General Hospital, and Mayo Clinic established the Marriott Mitochondrial Disease Collaborative Network with the goal of “fast tracking” development of a treatment for mitochondrial disorders.

November 2013

Grants to Columbia University, Massachusetts General Hospital, and Mayo Clinic established the Marriott Mitochondrial Disease Collaborative Network with the goal of “fast tracking” development of a treatment for mitochondrial disorders.

December 2014

The Foundation pledges $5 million at The White House Summit on Early Childhood Education to improve access to quality early childhood education and support children’s healthy social and emotional development.

December 2014

The Foundation pledges $5 million at The White House Summit on Early Childhood Education to improve access to quality early childhood education and support children’s healthy social and emotional development.

Remembering Stephen Garff Marriott (1959–2013)

Stephen Garff Marriott“Stephen is one of my great heroes. We will all remember his ability to find joy and happiness, despite his daily hardships.”
- J.W. Marriott, Jr.

Stephen Garff Marriott, longtime trustee of The J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation, passed away on June 23, 2013 after a prolonged battle with a degenerative mitochondrial disease. He is remembered fondly by his family, as well as friends and colleagues from around the world.

Stephen was passionate about his family, faith and work. He enjoyed a 38-year career with Marriott International, the global hotel company founded by his grandparents in 1927. He held many positions in the company, ultimately serving as executive vice president of culture, with responsibility for perpetuating the company’s core values, culture and spirit to serve. With a genuine passion for people, Stephen touched the lives of so many and has left an indelible impression on colleagues, customers, and friends across the globe.

Stephen gave generously of his time and talents to organizations that help improve the lives of others, especially individuals with disabilities. Until his death, he served on the board of the Marriott Foundation for People with Disabilities. He also served on the boards of the American Foundation for the Blind, American Speech-Language-Hearing Foundation, National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, Hospice Caring, District of Columbia College Access Program, and the National Capital Area Council, Boy Scouts of America.

Stephen was a steadfast advisor and unparalleled inspiration to the Foundation. His leadership helped develop the philanthropic legacy of his grandparents, J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott, and the Marriott family. The Foundation will forever hold Stephen dear and honor his great legacy of love and integrity by investing in programs and people that work to improve the lives of others, as he sought to do throughout his life.  

Staff and Governance

Under the direction of Richard E. Marriott and J. W. Marriott, Jr., the Foundation board is composed of descendants of J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott and is led by a small professional staff pictured below.

Anne Gunsteens
Executive Director
Bridget Miskell
Foundation Coordinator and Assistant to the Executive Director
Margaret Buckley
Grants Manager
Hannah Hahn
Program Manager