US and global tourist destination, opportunity zone and “parad-isle” in the middle of the Carribbean, Puerto Rico has long been the apple of many an entrepreneur’s eye. In September 2017, Hurricane Maria destroyed the Island’s infrastructure, precious rainforests, and wildlife preserves, which left a devastated population without homes, and animals without habitats. A state of emergency was declared, and roughly two years later, Puerto Rico’s economic and ecological health is still struggling to recover. Summer, 2019, saw new political crises, followed by preparations for Hurricane Dorian, which threatened much of the rebuilding done after Hurricane Maria. A sigh of relief went around official circles when it was revealed that Hurricane Dorian would narrowly avoid Puerto Rico, although some damage was still inflicted.
Having spotted Puerto Rico as a haven for the blockchain industry long ago, philanthropist and crypto-currency pioneer Brock Pierce eventually fell in love with the island and its people. He now works to repair the wounds caused by the tumultuous past three years. Through his charitable organization, the Integro Foundation, Mr. Pierce has been at the forefront of the efforts to “raise the economic floor” of the island he loves so dearly. In the past three months, Mr. Pierce’s organization has funded clothing and medical drives in Isla de Vieques and San Juan, raised money for the rehabilitation for endangered birds in the El Yunque rain forest, replaced the island’s depleted honey bee population with new colonies, and funded the reconstruction of multiple homes in Luquillo, Isla de Vieques, and Vega Alta… just to name a few of their efforts.
When I got the chance to speak to Mr. Pierce about some of the important things he’s doing for Puerto Rico, he sounded humble for a man who, in March was helping foot the bill for roof repairs for the elderly and in May was sponsoring family therapy for children with special needs. His first response to my “how are you,” was “thankful.”
Mr. Pierce was born to a Christian Family in Minneapolis, Minnesota. His mother, Lynette Pierce-Calabro, was affiliated with various theological institutions throughout the Midwest, including Spiritual Life Ministries in Minneapolis, and the Global School of Ministry in Toledo, Ohio. While she was studying for her ministry degree, Mr. Pierce would quiz her in order to help prepare for her exams. These study sessions would normally lead to deep conversations about values, ethics, and the ways in which their faith prompted them to give back to their community.
It was at Toledo’s Cornerstone Church where Lynette served as one of the leaders of the guest ministry, opening her heart and her home to people visiting the area. Brock remembers that his home was normally filled with guests from out of town who came for church functions. Lynette raised Brock to serve his community with the three Ts: give your Time, share your Treasure, and service your Talent. It was the discipline instilled from these “three T’s” that lead Brock to decide to donate 10% of his earnings from his leading role in The Mighty Ducks (1992), and The Mighty Ducks 2 (1994) to charity.
After the Mozambique famines in the 1980s, Lynette went on various mission trips to help feed and care for the afflicted. Years later, the same type of commitment and devotion would shape Brock’s work in Puerto Rico. Although Mr. Pierce’s work is strongly rooted in the church, he has changed his fundraising venue to the benefit scene this autumn. Partnering with his friend and former First Lady of Florida, Carole Crist, Mr. Pierce will host a benefit at Miami Beach’s Faena Hotel on Thursday, December 5th, 2019. The benefit will take place during Art Basel week in Miami Beach, which draws art collectors, entrepreneurs, investors, and various other philanthropic leaders to the city each December. In a phone interview, Mr. Pierce said that he wants the benefit to serve as a meeting of the minds. He continued, “In addition to raising funds, I want this benefit to raise awareness, and spark opportunities. Puerto Rico is one of our nation’s largest opportunity zones, it’s time we start a devoted following of people who are dedicated to harnessing those opportunities!” Ms. Crist said that the event is meant to celebrate the art, culture, cuisine, and economic opportunities of Puerto Rico, with all the funds raised going to various charities supported by the Integro Foundation. The former First Lady continued, “it’s time we all look into ways we can give our talent, time, and treasure to Puerto Rico.”
Ms. Crist’s strategic consulting and business development firm, CLC Global Advisors, models their brand ethos off the motto “Capital With A Conscience,” making their partnership with the Integro Foundation look like a match made in heaven. Carole’s rolodex of movers and shakers in the political and philanthropic world is sure to diversify the public portfolio of the Integro Foundation. Prospective guests to the December 5th gala are urged to contact Lauren Slade at the Integro Foundation at 512.921.0337 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.