Intro Image - Gift from the Sands Family is Largest in History of Rochester Area Community Foundation

Gift from the Sands Family is Largest in History of Rochester Area Community Foundation

February 9, 2016

Rochester Area Community Foundation has received the largest gift in its 44-year history from the Sands family, known for building Constellation Brands, Inc. into a leading beer, wine and spirits company in the United States and around the world.

Contributions totaling $61 million from brothers Richard and Rob Sands and their mother, Mickey, have established the Sands Family Supporting Foundation at the Community Foundation to expand the family’s philanthropic legacy and to perpetuate it through future generations of their family. 

“We are truly honored to assist the Sands family with their legacy of local, high-impact giving. This is great news for the Rochester region,” said Jennifer Leonard, president and CEO of the Community Foundation. 

“We are excited to create another platform for future Sands family generations to participate, learn, and continue to support the Rochester community,” said Richard Sands, chairman of the board of Constellation Brands. “The Sands Family Supporting Foundation adds a third pillar to our philanthropic enterprise, further enabling us to take a strategic, long-term approach to how we can benefit the community in a sustainable way.”

The Sands family legacy of giving and community involvement began with Mickey Sands and her late husband, Marvin. It is continued by their children through the family’s private foundation and the long-standing corporate giving and outreach by Constellation Brands and its employees.  

“When our father founded Constellation Brands 70 years ago, he knew that our business would only be successful if we could also make a positive and lasting difference in our local community,” said Rob Sands, president and CEO of Constellation Brands. “He was fond of saying, ‘You can’t save the world, but you can take care of your own community.’ We commit to being actively involved in order to make our financial contributions more impactful and, when appropriate, to introduce more business-like strategic and financial planning, evaluation, and reporting.”

The Sands Family Supporting Foundation will operate under the auspices of the Community Foundation with a board of directors overseeing and approving all grants. This board includes Sands family representatives Richard and Robert Sands and their niece, Abigail “Abby” Bennett, along with Community Foundation representatives José Coronas, Tom Richards, James Brush, and Leonard.

The Supporting Foundation will allow the family to further enhance their local giving for arts, education and health while beginning to involve the next generation, and future generations, in the Sands philanthropic legacy. Bennett represents the members of the next generation of the Sands family. She is the daughter of Robert and Richard’s sister, Dr. Laurie Sands, who passed away in 1995.   

“I’m excited to be part of this new philanthropic venture in Rochester. And I’m honored to learn from the Sands who came before me and to begin to follow in their footsteps when it comes to making a difference in our home community,” said Bennett.

The first round of grantmaking will be announced by the Community Foundation on April 1.

The Sands Family Supporting Foundation will be the third such entity under the Community Foundation’s umbrella. 

The Feinbloom Supporting Foundation was created in 1989 when the family sold their Rochester-based Champion Products, Inc. It provided a vehicle for Harold and Joan Feinbloom to continue their support of the arts, healthy development of young people, and citizen participation in community affairs. The Helen L. Morris Supporting Foundation was established in 1999 by Joseph Deblinger and his daughter and has been the primary supporter of a Lifespan program that trains volunteers to assist families caring for a loved one with dementia.

“These supporting foundations, in addition to the new one established by the Sands family, are perfect examples of how the Community Foundation achieves its mission — to engage and partner with philanthropists who help make our communities better,” said Coronas, chair of the Community Foundation’s board of directors. 

Before the Sands family gift, the Community Foundation held more than $300 million in 1,150 charitable funds established by other local families, individuals, and organizations. Three in every four dollars of those assets were permanently endowed for the future.

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