Asia 11/14/2017 – HONG KONG

Marriott International set to raise over USD 920,000 (RMB 6.1 million) for the Yao Foundation in support of underprivileged Chinese youth

Marriott International’s partnership with the Yao Foundation has raised over USD 920,000 (RMB 6.1 million) from the gala dinners that took place in three different cities in the mainland to support disadvantaged schoolchildren in rural China. Marriott Worldwide Business Councils, Greater China, hosted charity gala dinners in Shenzhen, Beijing and Shanghai in late October and early November. All net proceeds generated from ticket sales and the galas’ charity auctions will fund Marriott-Yao Foundation Hope Primary Schools in less developed regions in China.

The Yao Foundation was established in 2008 by former basketball player Yao Ming – the first overall pick in the 2002 NBA Draft, an eight-time NBA all-star, and a 2016 NBA Hall of Fame inductee – following the massive earthquake that devastated parts of China’s Sichuan province. The foundation is dedicated to enhancing the well-being of Chinese youth through education, health and environmental protection initiatives. Marriott and the Yao Foundation have been working together since 2013 to support rural education. By the end of 2016, Marriott International had donated RMB 7.5 million to the project and completed the reconstruction of two primary schools in Sichuan province and one in Guizhou province, with another four schools in the pipeline.

“We are delighted to partner with the Yao Foundation, bringing educational opportunities to underprivileged children across China.  As the largest hotel group in the world, our purpose is greater than opening new hotels; we’re committed to creating opportunities for talented young people, growing economies and strengthening communities.” said Craig S. Smith, President and Managing Director of Marriott International Asia Pacific.

“We’re very proud of what we have achieved with Yao Ming and how our partnership reflects Marriott’s core value of serving our world. The results are also aligned with our new social impact and sustainability platform ‘Serve 360’, where we do good in every direction, including empowering the needy through creating opportunities. Marriott International will continue to help Yao Foundation to better the lives of schoolchildren in China.” Craig S. Smith continued.

Guests at this year’s black-tie dinners enjoyed three different themes – ‘Expect the Unexpected’ in Shanghai, ‘Hollywood Night’ in Shenzhen and ‘Black & White Night’ in Beijing. In total, more than 1,750 guests attended the dinners which all took place at Marriott properties.

At the gala dinners, J.W. Marriott, Jr., Executive Chairman and Chairman of the Board of Marriott International, expressed his gratitude to everyone in attendance via a video message: “There are now three Hope Schools and the fourth is on the way. These schools do not just change the lives of underprivileged children, they also assist their families and communities. Helping children and their communities is important to me and my family, and reflects our core value to Serve Our World.’”

Debbie Harrison, Global Officer, Marriott Culture & Business Councils, spoke to guests via a real-time video call, relaying her admiration for the Yao Foundation and thanking the Marriott associates who worked so hard to improve their communities.

Yao Ming, founder of the Yao Foundation, said, “We are grateful to Marriott International for its unwavering support in helping to fund education and sports programs for children in rural China. Marriott’s commitment to building seven new schools will create opportunity and inspiration for generations of Chinese children and their families. As an industry leader, Marriott has connected us with an international array of business partners, guests and associates who all share a vision of improving access to education for children across China.”

Highlights of the charity dinner:

Honorable guests witness the special moment on stage when Craig S. Smith, President and Managing Director of Marriott International Asia Pacific, presents the check to Yao Ming.

‘Expect the Unexpected’ in Shanghai – 3 November 2017

The event’s theme was ‘Expect the Unexpected’ and the event was held at W Shanghai The Bund. Jointly hosted by 91 Marriott International hotels from the company’s East China Business Council and spanning 22 cities and 17 brands, this gala event welcomed 900 attendees including corporate guests and individual sponsors. Guests enjoyed splendid live entertainment and a delightful dining experience crafted by the Marriott culinary team. The gala raised RMB 3.89 million – a record breaking donation from one night.

Mr. Henry Lee, Chief Operations Officer and Managing Director of Marriott International Greater China (the 3rd from left) with the team present the check to Ms. Ye Li, Management Committee Member of Yao Foundation ( the 2nd from the left).

‘Black and White Night’ in Beijing – 27 October 2017

The ‘Black Tie’-themed charity gala dinner was supported by 57 Marriott hotels from the North China Business Council in Beijing, Tianjin sub-council, Shandong sub-council and Northeast Sub-council. Over 550 guests enjoyed the event which kicked off with a cocktail reception, followed by an exquisite dinner, dance performance, lucky draw, live auction and silent auction. The event raised RMB 1.34 million.

Stephen Ho, Chief Executive Officer, Greater China Marriott International (left), presents a check to Ye Dawei, executive director of the Yao Foundation.

‘Hollywood Night’ in Shenzhen – 1 November 2017

Jointly organized by a cluster of 54 Marriott Hotels in Shenzhen, Guangzhou, other cities in Guangdong and Hainan, this gala dinner was held in The St. Regis Shenzhen with the theme, ‘Hollywood Night’.

There were 300 corporate guests and individual sponsors attending the gala dinner, including Mr. Stephen Ho, Chief Executive Officer, Greater China Marriott International; Mr. Duke Nam, Area Vice President, South China Marriott International; Mr. Jakob Helgen, Area Vice President, Hong Kong, Macao, Shenzhen and Hainan Marriott International; Mr. Richard Taffs, Vice President of Operation, Greater China Marriott International and celebrity Mr. Michael Wong.  The gala raised a total of RMB 875,829 to further support educational projects for underprivileged children in rural China.

To learn more about Marriott’s new sustainability and social impact platform “Serve 360: Doing Good in Every Direction,” as well as the company’s new 2025 sustainability and social impact goals, please visit and via Twitter at @MarriottPOV.

About Marriott International
Marriott International, Inc. (NASDAQ: MAR) is based in Bethesda, Maryland, USA, and encompasses a portfolio of more than 6,400 properties in 30 leading hotel brands spanning 126 countries and territories. Marriott operates and franchises hotels and licenses vacation ownership resorts all around the world. The company also operates award-winning loyalty programs: Marriott Rewards®, which includes The Ritz-Carlton Rewards®, and Starwood Preferred Guest®. For more information, please visit our website at, and for the latest company news, visit In addition, connect with us on Facebook and @MarriottIntl on Twitter and Instagram.

About Yao Foundation
Chinese rural youth have benefited from studying in the 22 Hope Primary Schools and one special education school that the Foundation has funded. In addition to constructing the school buildings, the Yao Foundation also improves the educational experience of Chinese youth by partnering with leading Chinese and multinational companies to build libraries, computer rooms, kitchens, and sports and exercise areas in local schools. In 2012, the Yao Foundation initiated the “Yao Foundation Hope Primary School Basketball Season” program. By 2017, 720,000 students from 447 schools in impoverished areas joined the basketball program.  The opportunity allows the children to experience sportsmanship through playing basketball while also enjoying the happiness that sports bring to them. For more information about the Yao Foundation, visit Weibo &WeChat: 姚明爱心基金