Profiles of Leadership: Stephen M. Ross: Chairman and Founder of Related Companies

Written by Dean Glorioso

When you run the most prominent privately-owned real estate firm in the United States, how do you give back? You start in your own backyard.

Mr. Stephen M. Ross, Chairman and Founder of Related Companies, has generously committed $8 million to Palm Beach State College, introducing an essential initiative that helps prepare underserved students at Palm Beach Lakes and Forest Hill High Schools in West Palm Beach with pathways to postsecondary education and career credentials, bolstering Palm Beach County’s future workforce. The gift comes to the Foundation for Palm Beach State College through Related Southeast’s newly formed non-profit, Related Together, a private grant-making foundation to drive economic mobility in West Palm Beach’s northwest neighborhoods, including Historic Northwest, Pleasant City, and Coleman Park.

Over the next six years, Stephen M. Ross Emerging Scholars at Palm Beach State College enables viable academic and professional paths for students through three strategic pillars: scholarships, early college admissions, and advisory programs.

Scholarship Fund

Through Emerging Scholars, high school students are receiving more than scholarships; they have hope, guidance and opportunities. Students – from middle schoolers to high school seniors – can complete their academic journey with the promise of tuition free college diplomas and certifications thanks to the Stephen M. Ross Scholarship Fund.

Early College Academy

Through dual enrollment and mentorships, the Early College Academy gives students head-start access to STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics), health sciences and other high-demand career pathways, empowering young people today and impacting the community tomorrow.

Embedded Advisory

Advisory is the cornerstone of any pedagogical program. Neurodevelopmental constructs and other factors can be determinants that impact students’ academic, social, and personal success. During these years of developmental transition, a customized advisory program provides students with a much-needed advocate.

With Emerging Scholars, Palm Beach State College advisors take up residency at Palm Beach Lakes and Forest Hill, working closely with school counselors to help students navigate life’s goals, successes, and challenges. The advisory program also helps increase the number of high school graduates entering Palm Beach State, ensuring a college-to-career pipeline that serves the community’s workforce and the economic mobility of students and their families.

The Stephen M. Ross Emerging Scholars program comes with the launch of Related Together, funding projects that foster change and economic growth in underinvested communities. Moreover, Emerging Scholars is the non-profit’s first educational initiative and complements the current Northend RISE initiative, addressing the housing, education, employment, and health needs of individuals and families since 2021. Just as Palm Beach State’s mission strives to transform lives, Northend RISE, which stands for “Respect plus Integrity plus Strength equals Equity,” is transforming West Palm Beach’s Northend area.

A Gift That Never Stops Giving

Stephen Ross’s gift is one of the largest in Palm Beach State’s 90-year history, a testament to the belief he has in not only the College but also the community. The announcement came in early December 2023 at Gaines Park in West Palm Beach on a beautiful day in a neighborhood where the Northend RISE initiative is currently in place. In attendance, West Palm Beach Mayor Keith James and Palm Beach State President Ava L. Parker, J.D., shared their praise and appreciation.

“Mr. Ross’s gift is a beacon of prosperity and represents an exemplary collaboration between Related Together and Palm Beach State, contributing to our community with opportunities of inclusive growth for all,” said Mayor James with his wide, signature smile.


With unmistakable Palm Beach State passion in her voice, President Parker called Emerging Scholars “a blueprint for success,” one that helps remove barriers to postsecondary education. “Together, we are investing in our young people with early college programs and expanding a qualified workforce for businesses to thrive right here in Palm Beach County.”


Mr. Ross agreed. “We have the capacity and resources in our own backyard to offer a gift that never stops giving – to educate young students and impact our community. West Palm Beach is in a position to become a model city for this country.”


Seeing West Palm Beach as a unique environment for growth, Stephen Ross is focused on education and investments that lead to action, taking our historic neighborhoods from poverty to equity. In this way, by bringing those who call Palm Beach County home together, we are all related.




As the owner of the NFL’s Miami Dolphins, Mr. Stephen Ross was recently inducted into the National Football Foundation Leadership Hall of Fame, has received the National Housing Conference’s Housing Person of the Year award and has been recognized as one of the 100 Most Influential Leaders in Business by Crain’s New York Business, along with countless other accolades.

With interests and honors across the globe, Mr. Ross and his civic and philanthropic efforts have broadly focused on the areas of education, the arts, racial equality and healthcare as well as the creation of sustainable cities. One of the largest preservationists of affordable housing in the country, Related was recently named amongst the 50 Most Innovative Companies in the World by Fast Company, a leading progressive business magazine and media brand.

A graduate and supporter of the University of Michigan, Mr. Ross plans to give more than half his estate to charitable organizations through Giving Pledge, a long-term philanthropic initiative created by Warren Buffett and Bill and Melinda Gates that aims to inspire charitable giving globally. 

Please follow and like us: