Entrepreneur Carl DeSantis Donates $1 Million to the Dare 2 Be Great Foundation


Philanthropist and lifelong entrepreneur, Carl DeSantis, has announced a $1 million donation to the Dare 2 Be Great Foundation, a Delray Beach non- profit that provides college scholarships and mentoring programs to outstanding, financially needy Delray Beach students. DeSantis, a long-time Delray Beach business leader, was the founder, CEO and Chairman of Rexall Sundown, a vitamin manufacturer and distributor that grew from a small mail order business in his garage to a worldwide leader in nutritional supplements. DeSantis sold the company in 2000 to Royal Numico, a Dutch conglomerate, for in excess of a billion dollars. “This donation is a game changer,” said Dare 2 Be Great co-founder Morgan Russell. “This will enable Dare 2 Be Great to reach new heights and allow us to mentor and support the next generation of Delray Beach leaders and entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurship is an integral piece of Delray’s future, so learning from Carl DeSantis will be an enormous benefit to our students. They are sure to be inspired by his self-made story and the lessons he’s learned along the way. His generosity of spirit will enable us to educate and mentor so many more students who are going to have a major impact on Delray Beach’s future.” “I am impressed by the mission and accomplishments of Dare 2 Be Great,” DeSantis said. “And I am honored to be able to help our local young people achieve their potential by giving them an opportunity to be educated and to learn from mentors what it takes to succeed and win in life. The goal we all share is to invest in the future of Delray Beach by investing in its youth. I’m thrilled to be able to help.” For the past 13 years, DeSantis has been a philanthropist and a real estate investor while continuing to pursue entrepreneurial ventures. Among his companies are Celsius, a scientifically proven calorie burning beverage, Tabanero Hot Sauce, a Bespoke men’s shirt company and other investments including restaurants and office buildings. “I never wanted lack of finances to hinder greatness,” said DeSantis. “That’s why this program appeals to me. But what makes me so passionate about Dare 2 Be Great is the program’s goal to have the most promising youth of Delray Beach return to the area and become its next generation of leaders.” “That part of the program truly hits a chord with me,” he continued. “As we are investing in both the future of our youth, and the long-term vitality of our community.” A positive economic future for Delray Beach has always been a part of DeSantis’ business philosophy. His company, CDS International Holdings, is involved with many local businesses and owns Atlantic Plaza and Linton Towers in Delray Beach. CDS is currently partnering with The Edwards Companies of Ohio to redevelop Atlantic Plaza into “Atlantic Crossing,” an important mixed-use project featuring state of the art office, retail and residences in downtown Delray Beach. DeSantis considers “Atlantic Crossing” a legacy project creating much needed office space and entrepreneurial job opportunities. “The development will represent a quarter of a billion dollar plus investment in Delray Beach resulting in an estimated over $2 million annually of much needed tax revenue; over $6 million of projected spending by the new residences in shops, restaurants, and entertainment. In addition substantial construction jobs and over 600 permanent jobs will be created,” he stated. “I strongly believe in providing a future for our youth in as many ways as I can,” DeSantis continued. “And I look forward to sharing my experiences with these bright energetic young men and women as they fulfill their greatness.” Russell and former Delray Beach Mayor Jeff Perlman founded Dare 2 Be Great three years ago over breakfast in Pineapple Grove. They envisioned an organization that would identify future leaders, help them obtain a college education while providing mentoring along the way. The duo recruited a “dream team” board of directors that includes: mentoring expert Patrick Hidalgo, Delray Beach Community Improvement Director Lula Butler, Police Capt. Michael Coleman, City Education Coordinator Janet Meeks and local business executive Connor Lynch. “The ultimate goal is to find students who we feel can change the world,” said Perlman. “But the goal of the foundation is to get them to come back to Delray Beach and do great things here.” To date, Dare 2 Be Great has worked with many Delray Beach students. The first group of students graduate college this spring with plans to come back and work in Delray Beach.