HBO’s The Vow takes on the chilling activities of NXIVM. Mainly known as a self-help organization, NXIVM also operated multiple subgroups, including the children-oriented Rainbow Cultural Garden. While NXIVM is predominantly associated with the sex cult DOS, it has also been linked to the Rainbow Cultural Garden, a learning division established by NXIVM founder Keith Raniere in 2006. Given NXIVM’s sullied reputation, Rainbow Cultural Garden has, unsurprisingly, raised red flags over the years. Here’s what it was and what we know about its whereabouts.
In 2006, Raniere, despite having no background in education, billed Rainbow Cultural Garden as a “revolutionary child development program promoting children’s cultural, linguistic, emotional, physical, and problem-solving potential.” The child-care and education organization claimed that children, mainly younger ones, could learn seven languages at once through its teachings. The idea was to quickly switch children’s caretakers, each of whom would speak a different language with their assigned child.
At its peak, the company had 11 locations all around the world, including spots in Mexico and the UK. It was widely believed to be an opportunity for Raniere and his coconspirators to make money from parents in NXIVM. Its approach received mixed reactions from child development specialists. Some believed the Rainbow Cultural Garden wasn’t necessarily damaging but had goals that were “very difficult” to achieve. Meanwhile, others, such as child-welfare advocate Joseph O’Hara, worried this teaching approach would leave children fluent in no language during a pivotal developmental time in their lives.
Journalist Frank Parlato, who is widely credited as a former NXIVM employee turned whistle-blower, has looked into Rainbow Cultural Garden, calling it a “dangerous child experiment.” On one of his posts, one person using the moniker “Anya” commented about being a former nanny in the organization. The person wrote about how nannies were instructed not to say no to children and could only allow them to play with other children in the program. They said people working in the program were “nice and positive” but quite secretive. Parlato has also reported that some nannies were “sex slaves” for Raniere. In fact, Sara Bronfman, one of NXIVM’s top financiers, was listed on the UK site as the chain’s CEO based on reporting from the Miami New Times.
According to a lawsuit against NXIVM leadership, Rainbow Cultural Garden was never licensed as a day-care provider. In fact, the Miami school was closed down in 2018 for lacking the proper credentials. The education program, as a whole, appeared to entirely vanish following NXIVM’s shutdown. Its former websites are defunct, and it does not have an online presence today.