On the Trail of Something New for Jackson

Pictured (L to R) from the Community Foundation for Mississippi are Theresa Erickson, Vice President for Philanthropy; David Pharr, Chair of the Grants Committee; Jane Alexander, President and CEO; Mark Fields, Board of Trustees; Jon Turner, Chair, Board of Trustees; from the City of Jackson Jordan Rae Hillman, Director of Planning; Councilwoman Virgi Lindsay, Ward 7; Jhai Keeton, Deputy Director of Planning and Robert Lee, Traffic Engineer.

Almost 75 years ago, Gene Autry recorded the country music hit Twilight on the Trail, and several artists have recorded covers of the song over the years, including Bing Crosby, Johnny Cash, Perry Como, and Sam Cooke. Earlier this year, we made a $125,000 gift 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’s Farmers Market. The lyrics of the first verse of Twilight on the Trail seem appropriate as we celebrate this gift that has helped unlock funding from other public and private sources to raise the dollars needed to start construction.

When it’s twilight on the trail
And I jog along
The world is like a dream
And the ripple of the stream is my song

The Museum Trail has been a dream of running and biking enthusiasts, including our board member David Pharr, for more than a decade, and in a matter of months, people from across the country will be able to “jog along”, walk along, and bike along the trail that will drive traffic to some of our state’s cultural, historical, and educational jewels, such as the Two Mississippi Museums and the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science.

A significant part of our work is helping people with an original, creative, or transformative idea–like Autry’s Twilight on the Trail–connect with others who want to build on that idea to bring it to life for others in the community–like the other artists who covered the song. Jon Turner, chair of our Board of Trustees, described our role in this project and others as “a supporter and connector” for people “who want to address critical needs in their community.”

In addition to the social and health benefits of this project, the Museum Trail is likely to be an economic boon for the City of Jackson and surrounding communities. Similar projects across the country average a return of $3 for every $1 invested through new business development, revenue growth for existing businesses, and increases in tourism dollars. As we commemorate our 25th anniversary, we are proud to be supporting projects that will have a significant positive impact on the community for the next 25 years and beyond.

If you have an idea for ways your philanthropic contributions can help transform your community, give us a call at (601) 974-6044 to discuss how we can help.