Robert E. Luckett Memorial Scholarship Fund

Robert E. Luckett Scholarship recipients Kaygan Harrison (left) and Destiny Lesh (right) stand with Jeanne Luckett (middle) at Richland High School Senior Awards Night.
2022 Robert E. Luckett Memorial Scholarship recipients Kaygan Harrison (left) and Destiny Lesh (right) stand with Jeanne Luckett (middle) at Richland High School Senior Awards Night.

For Robert Luckett, education and encouraging young people was the passion of a lifetime.

“Education was always it for him,” his wife, Jeanne, recalled. “He always knew he was going to teach.”

The eighth of ten children in a Kentucky farming family, he was the first to graduate from college. A basketball scholarship to St. Leo College in Florida helped him get the first two years of college he needed before being recruited to transfer to Millsaps College.

Much of his tenure was spent as a principal – from Jim Hill High School to St. Joseph High School and for many years, Richland High School – where he touched the lives of countless students. Throughout his career, Robert was always focused on those that did not have much.

“He was all about inclusion, particularly those that had the least, helping them have opportunities,” Jeanne said. “He had a break and opportunities when he had nothing. That is what the scholarship is all about.”

In 2000, Robert was diagnosed with cancer, passing away two years later at the age of 57. Over the course of his illness, donations came in to support the family. What to do with the heartfelt gifts from his community? Jeanne and her son, Robby, decided to create a scholarship fund at the Community Foundation for Mississippi to honor his lifelong dedication to education and children.

“Robby and I decided the best thing would be to take that money and establish a scholarship fund. We started out with just one scholarship and then the money at the Foundation grew so wonderfully.”

Why create a fund at CFM? “I loved what the Community Foundation stood for. We felt like we wanted the money to be close and local,” Jeanne said. “We didn’t want it to be with a bank. We wanted it to be someplace where the money would generate some good as well.”

When looking at the impact Luckett had on the Richland community, there’s never more than one degree of separation. Richland High School counselor Michelle Cresap, who facilitates the scholarship selection process, had Robert as her principal.

“He was an incredible person,” she said on stage before announcing the award recipients. “We all remember him.”

Thinking back to recipients over the years, Jeanne says she is so impressed by those receiving the award. “They have sent the nicest thank you notes. You cannot imagine,” she said. “I keep in touch.”

For Jeanne, the fund and award are a full circle moment each year, seeing the impact her late husband had on the community.

“He loved kids and wanted to encourage them to further their education and pursue college. Through this fund, we help them do just that.”

Jackson Friends of the Library

The Jackson Friends of the Library (JFOL) supports the Jackson-Hinds Library System. Distributions from the fund are used for grants to enrich the holdings of the Jackson-Hinds Library System and for projects/services that will benefit patrons of the Jackson-Hinds Library System, determined by the Fund’s Advisory Board.

You can support JFOL in several ways at the Community Foundation for Mississippi. Each year, become a member of JFOL as an individual, family or corporate sponsor. Lifetime memberships are also available. Memberships support the Jackson Friends of the Library General Fund at CFM.

Donations can also be made to the Jackson Friends of the Library General Fund and Jackson Friends of the Library Endowment Fund.

As an endowment fund at a qualified community foundation in Mississippi, donors are eligible for a state tax credit equal to 25% of their gift to the JFOL Endowment Fund through Endow Mississippi. This program offers an incentive to encourage individuals, businesses and organizations to make lasting investments in their local communities through charitable giving. The minimum qualifying gift is $1,000.

Murrah Pleiades

Support Pleiades literary/arts magazine at Jackson’s Murrah High School

Murrah Pleiades logo

In 2013 an English teacher at Murrah High School in Jackson discovered a stack of literary magazines that the school first published during the year of its founding in 1954. Called the Pleiades, it continued to be published yearly for many years then disappeared and was almost forgotten. With the help of enthusiastic students, the teacher reached out to Murrah alumni for help in funding a magazine of student writing and art, and a new issue of the Pleiades was published.

The new Pleiades includes Murrah students’ poetry, essays, short stories, and drawings, — just like the archival issues from much earlier days. Thanks to technological advances, today’s Pleiades also features full color photographs and paintings. Recent issues of the Pleiades have won state awards from the Mississippi Scholastic Press Association including “Best Literary Magazine” and “Best Design.”

Pleiades staff advisor Sarah Ballard says, “We are known as being an outstanding publication producing mature student writers who win awards and go on to pursue careers in writing, journalism, and design.” These are experiences that lead to many more successes in life—not just in art and writing.

In March 2020, in celebration of their 50th reunion, a group of Murrah alumni developed the Murrah Pleiades Literary and Visual Arts Fund at the Community Foundation for Mississippi. The fund will create a steady income that will pay for the production of the school literary magazine for years to come, making it possible for the teacher to focus on teaching and the students on their creative endeavors and academics, rather than fundraising.

The regular school budget at Murrah does not cover the yearly monetary needs for producing the PleiadesWe invite you to assist Murrah’s dedicated staff and students to secure more permanent funding for the Pleiades by making a tax-deductible contribution to the Murrah Pleiades Literary and Visual Arts Fund at the Community Foundation for Mississippi.

We are very grateful for your donations. Your added contributions will help assure that many future students at this Jackson high school will enjoy the benefits of participating in the hard but creative work to produce the Pleiades.

John F. and Lucy Shackelford Fund

Image of John and Lucy Shackelford
John and Lucy Shackelford

John and Lucy Shackelford’s legacy of giving continues to be seen throughout the capital city, particularly centered in downtown Jackson. Throughout the years it was a place they visited during their courtship, window-shopping and dreaming together along Capitol Street. John Shackelford, who made his fortune in trees and lumber, recognized that the Community Foundation for Mississippi was a place with deep roots in the community and represented an opportunity to grow their impact for years to come. After Lucy’s death in 2015, CFM received a bequest — half of their remaining estate — valued at $8.8 million. Since that time, the John F. and Lucy Shackelford Fund at the Community Foundation for Mississippi has made a transformative impact on the streets of Jackson they knew and loved. Click the tabs below to learn about projects touched by their incredible gift.

John F. and Lucy Shackelford Fund: Grantee Sites

Image of the Oaks House Museum with the Oaks House Museum sign prominently in the front.

823 N. Jefferson Street

The Oaks House Museum is a Greek Revival-style cottage built in 1853 on four acres of land located near the center of Mississippi’s capital city. A Mississippi Landmark and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, The Oaks House is one of Jackson’s oldest dwellings. 

In 2018, CFM’s gift of $40,000 assisted the museum with HVAC and foundation repairs. In 2019, CFM provided additional funds to repair a brick walkway and add hand rails. In 2020, CFM funds were used to begin a long-range plan for the museum.

Opening day at the Two Mississippi Museums. Myrlie Evers stands with a crowd clapping with the Community Foundation for Mississippi Gallery in the background.
A crowd, including Myrlie Evers (center), claps during the opening of the Two Mississippi Museums. The Community Foundation for Mississippi Gallery at the Museum of Mississippi History can be seen in the background.

222 North Street

In 2017, to support the creation of the Museum of Mississippi History alongside its sister Mississippi Civil Rights Museum, the Community Foundation made a generous $750,000 grant to support this monumental addition to downtown Jackson, which included naming rights as the Community Foundation for Mississippi Gallery. CFM has continued its support of the Museum of Mississippi History through the Shackelford Fund with its support of “History is Lunch,” a weekly lecture series focused on different historical topics, held at the museums. Shackelford Funds also supports the “Speaking of Mississippi” podcast, bringing this exploration of stories to new audiences during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the foreground, a person rides a bike while a person runs beside them across a bridge at the Museum Trail. A person on a bike is the background headed in the opposite direction.
Photo by Salam Rida

Museum Drive to Mississippi Farmer’s Market and Downtown Jackson

The Museum Trail is a key connector to livability and quality of life in downtown Jackson. An effort that lasted over ten years, the trail is supported by the Greater Jackson Chamber of Commerce, the Jackson Heart Foundation and other private, state and federal sources. In an effort to complete its first phase, the Community Foundation for Mississippi brought the project over the finish line when it granted $125,000 to the City of Jackson. This supported the construction of the 2.5-mile walking, running, and biking trail section that connects the Two Mississippi Museums and Mississippi Farmer’s Market to the LeFleur Museum District. The Community Foundation’s gift has helped unlock critical funding from other public and private sources to raise the dollars needed to start construction.

In 2024, an additional grant from the Shackelford Fund helped begin work to extend the Museum Trail from near the Two Mississippi Museums, behind Hal and Mal’s towards Court Street. This new phase will help move the trail toward its goal of connecting to Jackson State University and beyond.

Read more about the trail’s journey to completion here.

Image of clubhouse at Greenwood Cemetery

West and Lamar streets

Greenwood Cemetery is unique in its role as Jackson’s oldest historic landmark and its original graveyard during Jackson’s very beginnings. So much more than a cemetery, strolls through the grounds will leads visitors to the graves of Eudora Welty, numerous governors, public officials, confederate soldiers and a diverse group of historically significant contributors to the city of Jackson. 

The Community Foundation of Mississippi has granted funds to maintain and sustain the cemetery, including re-paving the central road that leads through the grounds. The Shackelford’s extraordinary gift and the vision of beautification of downtown Jackson have been a game-changer,” said Cecile Wardlaw, president of the Greenwood Cemetery Association. “Funding for historic cemeteries is very hard to find. Donations to the Greenwood Cemetery Fund at the Community Foundation for Mississippi will ensure that improvements made now will be maintained in the future.”

View of the Capital grounds on festival day for the Mississippi Book Festival.
Photo by Tate Nations

400 High Street

The Mississippi Book Festival is Mississippi’s annual literary lawn party where book lovers from all walks of life celebrate the written word. By its fifth year, the festival’s attendance reached 9,300 with 47 official panel discussions and activities at 10 different venues, mostly centered around the grounds of the Mississippi State Capitol and Galloway United Methodist Church.

CFM holds the funds locally for the Book Festival and has continued to support the operations of the festival alongside private funders to contribute to this unique and star-studded festival that highlights the incredible literary contributions of Mississippians across the state. 

Did you know the Mississippi Book Festival also has a fund at CFM? You can support the festival here.

String lights illuminate Smith park with the Jackson skyline in the background.

302 Amite Street

Smith Park is now illuminated thanks to a lighting project funded in partnership with Downtown Jackson Partners and the Community Foundation for Mississippi. 

Over the years, DJP has worked to modernize Smith Park according to the Smith Park Master Plan and create a space that is safe and enjoyable for downtown residents, visitors and employees. Since the edition of the 1,200 LED bistro lights, Smith Park has seen an increase in park visitors and positive experiences have been reported by downtown residents.

Interior of the Arts Center of Mississippi
Arts Center of Mississippi, 2018

201 E. Pascagoula Street 

In 2018, the Greater Jackson Arts Council and the City of Jackson announced major aesthetic renovations to the Arts Center of Mississippi. Flooring, customizable lighting, wall coverings and other improvements were planned, including honoring two of Jackson’s greatest patrons of the arts.

The primary goal of the renovation is to bring the building’s dramatic public spaces a new life and includes replacing all of the interior finishes — vinyl flooring, ceiling systems, and a fresh coat of paint. The $250,000 grant from the John F. and Lucy Shackelford Fund helped to jumpstart fundraising for the effort.

Interior of Thalia Mara Hall with large chandelier hanging from above.

255 E. Pascagoula Street 

Jackson’s city auditorium has a history of brilliant and breathtaking performances spanning more than five decades. But Thalia Mara Hall, the home of the USA International Ballet Competition, among many other organizations, got a little down-at-the-heels. A facelift to make sure the space where artistic stars shine was just as stellar lead a group of private and public sector stakeholders to launch an ambitious renovation project.

CFM’s support contributed to the renovations of this downtown treasure including a commitment to supply funds to repair the iconic fountains located in front of Thalia Mara Hall. 

Did you know you can support Friends of Thalia Mara Hall for future improvements through CFM? Give here.

String lights at the plaza of the Arts Center of Mississippi.
The Plaza outside the Arts Center of Mississippi

255 E. Pascagoula Street

A global welcome means a local bonus with the USA International Ballet Competition in Jackson, and not just in the thrill of world-class dance. For the 2018 USA IBC event, held in Jackson, CFM’s grant supported the IBC International Village Plaza – a hub for activity between the new Westin Jackson (the IBC’s official hotel), Thalia Mara Hall, the Arts Center of Mississippi and Jackson Convention Complex. 

Plaza features included a sculpture, flags, banners, plantings and more. The biggest change — and most lasting one for Jacksonian’s — came to the concrete courtyard between the Arts Center and Pascagoula Street. The long-neglected spot has been spiffed up for the IBC and beyond. Primary funding for improvements came from the Community Foundation for Mississippi with additional financial and in-kind support.

Rendering of new Jackson Planetarium and Arts Center of Mississippi atrium

201 E. Pascagoula Street 

Jackson’s Planetarium has been a mainstay of downtown for several decades, but it’s time for a completely new chapter for the Planetarium. A full reimagining of the planetarium is underway with a total redesign of every space and a brand new atrium addition to tie it all together. Staff are working with exhibit designers who have created award-winning exhibits for NASA Kennedy Space Center and beyond to create a fun and interactive educational experience like none ever seen before in Mississippi. With a match provided by Kane Ditto, CFM gifts have supported both the planning and renovation stages of the project. Learn more here.

The Friends of the Planetarium at the Community Foundation also helps support the ongoing work of the space. Support their progress here.

String lights at the plaza of the Arts Center of Mississippi.
The Plaza outside the Arts Center of Mississippi

201 E. Pascagoula Street 

The Community Foundation for Mississippi furthers its commitment to not only the present but the future of downtown Jackson. In 2021, $72,00 was committed to support a comprehensive plan for creating an Arts District encompassing the Convention Center, Museum of Art, Arts Center, Thalia Mara Hall and the parking areas surrounding them and the hotels in the area. This project is supported by multiple organizations and community stakeholders in conjunction with the City of Jackson, CDFL Architecture firm and consultant, Carbon Office.

Crowd dressed in green has their hands raised, cheering along.
Image by Tate Nations

In its commitment to increase tourism in downtown Jackson, CFM sponsors the Hal’s St. Paddy’s Parade alongside other funders, including the City of Jackson, Hinds County, Downtown Jackson Partners and Visit Jackson. In 2021, CFM’s grant from the Shackelford Fund supported the expense of barricades, an essential need along the parade route. The Hal’s St. Paddy’s Day parade in Jackson is one of the largest St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in the country and brings in significant visitors to downtown Jackson. 

A ground of children sit at a high top table with Macbook laptops while an adult looks on, giving instructions at Operating Shoestring.
Image courtesy Duvall Decker

1711 Bailey Avenue 

Founded in 1968 in response to the social struggles of the civil rights era, Operation Shoestring was born out of a desire by faith-based leaders to put their faith into action by uplifting children and families in our central Jackson service community, especially in the areas of education, health and economic self-sufficiency. Since then, Operation Shoestring has been at the forefront of efforts to improve the lives of the children and families they serve through after-school and summer programs for kids, services and support for their parents, and more. In 2018, CFM awarded $150,000 to seed an endowment fund for Operation Shoestring.

380 S. Lamar Street 

The Art Alley and Gallery Garden at the Mississippi Museum of Art, the result of an imaginative renovation of the pedestrian walkway that connects the museum’s main (north) entrance and The Art Garden to the Museum’s West Street (east) entrance, is a 288-foot path behind Thalia Mara Hall. Not only is this alley an entry way to the Mississippi Museum of Art from The Westin Hotel, but it is also a backstage entrance for those performing at Thalia Mara Hall. The public art improvements create a safe, well-lit, and tranquil path. Gifts from the Community Foundation for Mississippi, the National Endowment for the Arts, Mississippi Arts Commission and Betsy and Kane Ditto made this project possible. 

Throughout the years, the Shackelford Fund has invested in the Mississippi Museum of Art including funding to refurbish and refresh its public spaces prior to the April 2022 exhibition of “The Great Migration.” The Shackelford’s support was instrumental in the initial transformation of a parking lot into what is now a thriving Art Garden, drawing locals and tourists alike to experience public spaces like no-other in downtown Jackson. The Shackelford’s have truly left a legacy with these investments. 

Front of Refill Cafe

136 S. Adams Street

The Refill Jackson Initiative, also know as “Refill Cafe” is a nonprofit on a mission to equip young adults with workforce training, mentorship and a better future. They are dedicated to a holistic approach including providing classroom learning alongside on-the-job training, budgeting, business and life skills. 

The Community Foundation for Mississippi believes in supporting new opportunities that contribute to better quality of life for young people in Mississippi. CFM’s gift contributed to the parking lot renovation needed to open the doors of the Refill Cafe. 

View of Capitol Street from above, looking towards the Old Capitol Museum
View of Capitol Street from above, looking towards the Old Capitol Museum. Image by Stephen Little.

Capitol Street 

Capitol Street is the primary entry point to downtown and was particularly meaningful to the Shackelfords as they walked the street together in their early courtship, window-shopping and dreaming together. The Community Foundation for Mississippi has contributed to Capitol Street construction improvements, including efforts to install new trees, electrical systems and lighting. The entire improvement project included replacing sidewalks, installing new parking meter poles and making important street repairs. These improvements have greatly improved the block of Capitol Street and CFM, in collaboration with other funds, are making a strategic impact on the streets of downtown Jackson. 

MSU Design Camp

509 E. Capitol Street

The Community Foundation for Mississippi supports a five-day summer experience at Mississippi State University, School of Architecture’s downtown Jackson campus with the goal of helping students develop their interests in architecture, art, community development, design, engineering, social justice and related professional fields. At the camp, CFM contributed to the effort that supported students with the opportunity to learn about design tools and media through workshops on design, sketching, photography, model building, sculpture and construction. 

Stories for Good

We are helping inspire community action through storytelling because we know imagination is the key to change.

Imagination is the key to change. Imagination helps us envision the future, helps us determine what needs to change. That is why, with support from Blue Magnolia Films, we have re-imagined storytelling.

We hosted capacity-building workshops and taught community leaders a new method of storytelling that is empowering, moving, and community-focused. Using a documentary-style of storytelling, community leaders were able to produce narratives that resonated with their communities.

At the end of each workshop, their stories were shared using public dialogue, community initiatives, and events. We intend for this collection to inspire, engage, and reimagine community engagement and to show that we are better together.

Refill Café

Hospitality has been one of the hardest-hit industries in the country after COVID-19 shelter-in-place orders kept many people from venturing out to restaurants and limiting all nonessential travel. Despite its own closure, one local eatery and nonprofit found a way to support restaurant workers.

Refill Café, a casual restaurant and nonprofit workforce training program in Jackson, stepped up to provide assistance to foodservice industry workers who lost their jobs or experienced reduced hours because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The organization gave $50 checks to help these individuals purchase groceries and supplies or simply make ends meet. 

Learn more about Refill Café by visiting the organization’s website or following them on social media.

Mississippi organizations, like Refill Café, demonstrate through their tireless efforts to serve their community, that our state is truly the most generous state in the nation. Thank you to the entire team for being an example of what it means to show compassion for our neighbors.

Operation Shoestring

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a tremendous challenge for afterschool programs across our state. Our partner, Operation Shoestring, has temporarily suspended its in-person services. Despite this suspension, the organization’s staff, board, and volunteers are working to ensure that Shoestring’s more than 300 children and youth and their families have access to nutrition and fun, engaging learning resources with virtual summer camp.

Thank you, Operation Shoestring, for your efforts to continue to uplift children and families in Central Jackson. This work significantly contributes to creating a bright future for our entire state. 

 To learn more about Operations Shoestring visit the organization’s website.

Walter Anderson Museum

Museums are a critical part of creating thriving communities, and the COVID-19 pandemic has forced museums around the country to close their doors to the public. Despite the closings, the Walter Anderson Museum in Ocean Springs, Mississippi, continues its educational outreach. The institution provides an opportunity for teachers to connect with a museum educator by video conference to lead in-gallery instruction with students free of charge. The museum has also created a series of video learning opportunities to keep children and adults engaged in arts education. You can watch the videos on the museum’s Vimeo page.

The museum is living out its educational philosophy to “deliver intergenerational outreach and programming,” even though children and families cannot visit. 

Thank you to the museum team for your creativity and commitment to inspiring discovery, imagination, and community-building for people on the Gulf Coast and around the state.

Mississippi Alliance of Nonprofits and Philanthropy

The Mississippi Alliance of Nonprofits and Philanthropy (The Alliance) works to build capacity and foster collaboration among and between nonprofits and philanthropic communities. Although COVID-19 has made it more challenging for nonprofits and philanthropic organizations to connect, The Alliance is finding meaningful ways to bring people and organizations together across Mississippi.

The organization is providing resources to nonprofits to help them navigate virtual teams and remote working. The program team provides weekly webinars that highlight best practices from organizations and experts around the state who are working on COVID-19 response efforts. 

The Alliance has also created a COVID-19 resources hub with information relevant to philanthropy, nonprofits, and individuals. The resource hub includes information about how nonprofits can apply for the Small Business Administration Paycheck Protection Program. 

We are grateful for The Alliance’s leadership. We applaud their efforts to continue creating community and collaboration among charitable organizations and donors.

Mississippi Arts Commission

The arts community has suffered significantly from the COVID-19 pandemic with museums, art galleries, and entertainment venues forced to close. These closures severely affect the livelihood of artists and entertainers. That’s why the Mississippi Arts Commission (MAC) has stepped up to provide resources and support for its grantees, people who have recently applied for grants, and those interested in upcoming funding opportunities. 

MAC will also be working with the arts community to provide funding that Congress made available through the economic relief package. Learn about the CARES act funding opportunities here. These funds are critical to ensuring Mississippi’s arts community can thrive. When the arts thrive, communities thrive. For more information on the work they’re doing, visit their website,, or connect with them via social media at

Thank you to MAC for providing opportunities to artists and arts organizations to help ensure the arts will continue to flourish in our state. 

#allinthistogether #Mississippistrong