James Donnelly, Founder and Chairman of Castle Group, to Receive 2024 Horatio Alger Award  

The Horatio Alger Association names 11 outstanding individuals, each of whom has overcome adversity to achieve professional and personal success, to its Member Class of 2024 

WASHINGTON, D.C. (February 6, 2024) – Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans, Inc., a nonprofit educational organization honoring the achievements of outstanding individuals and encouraging youth to pursue their dreams through higher education, today announced that P. James Donnelly, founder and chairman of Castle Group,has been selected for membership in this prestigious organization. Mr. Donnelly joins 10 other exceptional business, civic and cultural leaders from across North America in receiving 2024 honors. For more than 75 years, the Horatio Alger Award has been annually bestowed upon esteemed individuals who have succeeded despite facing adversities, and who have remained committed to higher education and charitable efforts in their communities.  

Mr. Donnelly’s story of success started with humble beginnings in Bells Corners, a small village outside of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, to becoming a major figure in the property management industry. Mr. Donnelly and his five-member family lived in a modest 900-square-foot home. His home was the only one on the street with a gravel driveway and potatoes planted in the front yard because they could not afford sod or asphalt. This experience fueled his determination to be successful in his own life through education, hard work, and perseverance. His entrepreneurial spirit was ignited at age 13 when he bought a lawn mower and earned a contract with a condominium association, making $2,000 in his first summer. His desire to succeed led him to reinvest $350 in a snow blower to work winters. Donnelly did not stop there; he began working at McDonald’s and became a manager at just 16 years old and paid his way through college as a crane operator. 

Upon graduating from Carleton University with a bachelor’s degree in commerce, Mr. Donnelly passed his CA exam and began his career with Arthur Anderson. Despite having a stable income, Mr. Donnelly knew he would be happier doing something he was truly passionate about. He trusted his gut and quit his job to become a real estate salesman. His instincts proved right when he achieved millionaire status by his 28th birthday. In 1988, Mr. Donnelly began acquiring and converting Florida apartment buildings into condominiums and selling them to Canadian investors. During this time, he commuted back and forth from Canada until moving full-time to Florida in 1996. Throughout the 90s, Mr. Donnelly grew the Castle Group from a start-up to being the premier choice for property management in Florida and Texas.  The Castle Group today has 2,700 teammates managing over 200,000 units.   

“We are excited to welcome James Donnelly to the Horatio Alger Association,” said Terrence J. Giroux, executive director, Horatio Alger Association. “His journey from humble beginnings to becoming a mogul in the property management industry is something to be admired. He truly embodies the American Dream, and the Association will undoubtedly benefit from both his commitment to community service and passion for higher education.”  

Beyond his business accomplishments, Mr. Donnelly is committed to community service and education. He serves on the Nova Southeastern University Board of Trustees, where he has endowed the James Donnelly Real Estate and Property Management Program.  He is also a member of the Florida Council of 100 and is past chair of the Community Foundation. His accolades include the Sun Sentinel’s Excalibur Business Leader of the Year for Broward County, the Terry Stiles South Florida Leadership Award and induction into the Hall of Fame at Nova Southeastern University’s H. Wayne Huizenga School of Business and Entrepreneurship. 

Mr. Donnelly’s impact on the community extends to his involvement with organizations such as the Broward Workshop and the LeMieux Center for Public Policy at Palm Beach Atlantic University. He was named to Broward County’s Ultimate CEOs list by the South Florida Business Journal and a finalist for Florida’s Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year Award. 

“From a young age, I’ve known what kind of life I wanted to build,” said Mr. Donnelly. “Joining the Horatio Alger Association is a privilege, enabling me to further my philanthropic endeavors. I am dedicated to supporting the educational aspirations of the next generation and grateful for this opportunity to share my insights and inspire our nation’s young people.” 

2024 marks the 40th year that the Association has awarded annual need-based scholarships to high school students who have displayed dedication to pursuing higher education despite significant obstacles throughout their lives.  The Association, which aims to preserve and protect the American Dream for future generations, also seeks to educate young people about the endless opportunities available by the free-enterprise system through commitment, honesty, and diligence. The scholarships are made possible thanks to the generosity of Horatio Alger Members, who will have collectively provided more than $245 million to over 35,000 students. 

“It is our utmost honor to present the Horatio Alger Award to these 11 outstanding leaders who have exemplified perseverance, passion and a deep appreciation for higher education,” said James F. Dicke II, chairman, Horatio Alger Association and 2015 Horatio Alger Award recipient. “These influential leaders not only spearhead their own endeavors, but they give generously to causes, organizations and communities in need. Our 2024 awardees embody the Association’s mission and are proof that the American Dream is within reach for anyone who seeks it. 

Mr. Donnelly and the Member Class of 2024 will be formally inducted into the Association on April 4-6, 2024, during the Association’s annual Horatio Alger Award Induction Ceremonies in Washington, D.C. The three-day event is an annual ceremony to honor both the achievements of Members and National Scholars, who will have multiple opportunities to meet, interact and exchange stories of perseverance.  


For more information about Horatio Alger Association and its Member Class of 2024, please visit www.horatioalger.organdfollow the organization on Facebook,  X, LinkedIn and Instagram.  




About Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans:  

Founded in 1947, the Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans, Inc. is dedicated to the simple but powerful belief that hard work, honesty and determination can conquer all obstacles. The Association honors the achievements of outstanding leaders who have accomplished remarkable successes in spite of adversity by bestowing upon them the Horatio Alger Award and inducting them as lifetime Members. Horatio Alger Members support promising young people with the resources and confidence needed to overcome adversity in pursuit of their dreams through higher education. Through the generosity of its Members and friends, in 2023, the Association awarded more than $18 million in undergraduate and graduate need-based scholarships to 1,800 students across the United States and Canada, and provided college support and mentoring services to its Scholars. Over the past 40 years, more than $245 million has been awarded in undergraduate, graduate, military veteran and career and technical education scholarships to more than 35,000 deserving students. For more information, please visit www.horatioalger.org.