Foundation Receives Gift of Millions Earmarked for Downtown Improvements

Foundation Receives Gift of Millions Earmarked for Downtown Improvements

A gift to the Community Foundation for Mississippi means more good news for downtown Jackson.

The foundation recently announced it had received a $10 million donation, which has been set aside for quality of life improvements downtown.

“This was an incredible, game-changing gift that clearly shows people can impact their communities long after they’re gone,” said Jon Turner, chair of the foundation’s board of trustees.

“We hope that the … gift will inspire others across the state to consider leaving a legacy that will benefit the communities they love in a very tangible way.”

The gift is one of the largest bequeathed to the foundation, which manages approximately $55 million in assets.

The funds will be invested, and a portion of the interest will go toward downtown projects each year, potentially in perpetuity.

“Plans are for five percent of the value of the fund to be granted annually for projects related to downtown Jackson (for) approximately $400,000 to $500,000,” he said.

“The board will never allow the principal of this fund to be invaded, and therefore, it will be good forever. We hope the fund will grow to $20 million, which would provide (us) with granting capacity of $1 million a year.”

Funds were bequeathed by the late John Shackelford, an Eden, Miss., native, who had a desire to restore downtown Jackson to its former glory. The foundation received notice of the donation in 2015, after the passage of Shackelford’s wife, Lucy.

The foundation initially received $8.8 million, but the amount has increased to around $10 million because of gains from investments.

The dollars have been set aside in the John F. Shackelford Fund and are being invested in numerous funds in the hopes of growing interest.

Funds can be used for “the express purpose of supporting projects intended to improve the livability of the community, with specific emphasis on the downtown area,” a news release from the foundation states.

The first grant was awarded earlier this year — $750,000 to sponsor the permanent exhibit at the Mississippi History Museum. Toyota provided the same amount to sponsor the permanent exhibit space at the Civil Rights Museum.