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.”

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 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

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.

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 supported $30,000 to sponsor 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 contributed to Capitol Street construction improvements, including efforts to install new trees and electrical systems to support lighting. The entire improvement project included replacing sidewalks, installing new parking meter pols 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. 

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

Jackson Public School District

For many children in our community, the only healthy meals they receive are during the school day. With schools closed to help slow the spread of COVID-19, the Jackson Public School District (JPS), in partnership with the Mississippi Food Network, quickly stepped up to provide a grab-and-go meal plan for children. The organizations also provided discounted breakfast and lunch options for adults in communities across the city. Community institutions, like schools, play a critical role in response and recovery. Learn more about the district’s COVID-19 response efforts here.

Thank you to the Jackson Public School District for demonstrating compassion and caring during this crisis.

#allinthistogether #Mississippistrong

Thalia Mara Hall Renovations Fund

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.

Dedicated in 1968, the auditorium was a community effort to replace a former armory which then served as the performance hall for the capital city. Modeled on mid-century design principles, the building became a beacon of civic pride and community leadership. Named for the ambassador of ballet in Mississippi, Thalia Mara, the hall saw near-continuous use, despite aging city infrastructure, changing patron habits, budget concerns and expectations for amenities. By 2013, something needed to be done. That fall, a group of private and public sector stakeholders formed Friends of Thalia Mara Hall to raise funds to pay for much-needed renovations to this majestic structure. The quadrennial USA International Ballet Competition was scheduled for the following June, so not just money was the challenge. The timeline was just as much a factor in whether the renovation could be completed. The Friends of Thalia Mara established a fund at the Community Foundation, and within months, the group raised $1.5 million in private contributions. This impressive pool of charitable investments was added to a $3 million investment from the City of Jackson and $1 million in state bond funds to support the first phase of the renovation project – which was indeed complete just in time for the June 2014 USA IBC.

Using the Community Foundation saved time, as the only other option would have been for the Friends of Thalia Mara Hall to become a nonprofit organization – something which takes a lot of time and money, and was unnecessary for a project with an end date. It gave donors a sense of security that their donations would be spent only for the designated project, along with their tax deduction. Operating the “back office” through the Community Foundation also meant fundraising efforts could be concentrated on completing the project – not on overhead.

Best of all, this successful public-private partnership allows a jewel in the City’s cultural crown to glimmer again

To learn more about seating your project at the Community Foundation, contact us at

Peggy Huff Harris Fund

A Vision for Legacy
Peggy Huff Harris had a legacy to leave. She came to the Community Foundation to help write her last chapter.

Left an inheritance by her son, Peggy wanted to create a lasting memorial to him while helping the nonprofits she admired most. From filling pantries to fulfilling the promise of public broadcasting, her bequest to start an endowed fund keeps supporting the charities close to her heart and tells an ongoing story of her family. The Thomas G. Ramey and Peggy Huff Harris Fund supports seven charitable organizations every year, and will continue to, for good. Forever. It’s inspiring to see how ordinary people can create a transformational gift – not because it’s large, but because it’s planned. It’s thoughtful. It’s visionary. What’s the vision you have for your last chapter? Let us help you write it.

View our Ways to Give page to get started. Or, reach us at