The Community Foundation for Mississippi (CFM) recently granted $125,000 to the City of Jackson to support the construction of the Museum Trail—a 2.5-mile walking, running, and biking trail that will connect several museums and attractions to the Mississippi Farmers Market in the capital city. The Community Foundation’s gift has helped unlock critical funding from other public and private sources to raise the dollars needed to start construction.
“The dollars the Community Foundation brought to the table helped attract an additional $250,000 in public and private investments to begin construction before the bid expired,” said David Pharr, one of the Museum Trail’s founding volunteers. “Without these critical funds, the project would have stalled for an indefinite period of time, risking expiration of deadlines for completion or loss of resources to other needs.”
Projects like the Museum Trail average a return of $3 for every $1 invested. Similar projects in Hattiesburg and Memphis have contributed to a significant economic boon for those cities, including new business development, revenue growth for existing businesses, and an increase in tourism dollars. A 2011 study conducted by the University of Cincinnati also found that property values near multi-use trails also tend to increase. Multi-use trails have been shown to promote healthier lifestyles. A survey conducted soon after the construction of the Longleaf Trace showed that 20% of the 40,000 residents living within 3 miles of the trail reported an increase in exercise. Finally, multi-use trails have become rallying points for civic improvement in many cites, encouraging neighbors to get to know each other better in what are essentially linear parks. The Museum Trail is a core segment in a planned network of trails that will eventually provide safe bicycle and pedestrian travel throughout Greater Jackson.
“The idea for this project emerged more than ten years ago as a way to contribute to creating a vibrant capital city, improve public health, and drive economic growth for Jackson,” said David Pharr, also a CFM board member and chair of the grants committee. “Museum Trail advocates have invested a significant amount of time and energy researching the economic and other benefits of trails like this one in other areas, and we are confident that Jackson and the surrounding communities will benefit greatly from this project.”
“Community foundations connect private dollars to work that supports the public good,” said Jane Alexander, president and CEO of CFM. “We were eager to support this project as it aligns with our work to foster public-private partnerships that lead to lasting and meaningful change for Mississippi communities and positive economic growth in these areas.”
The trail will begin at the Two Museums in downtown Jackson and end at the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science. In 2017, CFM supported the Two Museums project with a $750,000 gift to the Museum of Mississippi History. Funds for the gifts to the Museum Trail and Two Museums projects were made possible by a bequest from John F. and Lucy Shackelford.
“The Community Foundation serves as a convener in the philanthropic space in Mississippi, bringing together public and private donors with nonprofits and other charitable causes to facilitate positive transformational change in cities and towns across Mississippi,” said Jon Turner, chair of the CFM Board of Trustees. “We will continue to support projects like the Museum Trail, and serve as a supporter and connector for others who want to address critical needs in their community through philanthropy.”
CFM has granted more than $57.3 million in its 25-year history. For more information about the Community Foundation or to find out how you can work with CFM to make a difference for your community, visit www.formississippi.org.
About the Community Foundation for Mississippi
The Community Foundation for Mississippi is a nonprofit foundation that helps charitable donors establish permanent giving funds that reflect their interests while also making a long-term, positive impact on the community. The foundation also serves the nonprofit community by managing and growing their endowments and offering best practice management advice.