Fall is finally here! (I think.) The weather, as usual in Texas, changes daily, but for the most part, it’s feeling like fall to me. This is my favorite time of year—cool, crisp air; fall foliage; and the perfect weather for being in nature.
We have exciting news to share! The City of Fort Worth has received Texas Parks and Wildlife Department's 2020 Urban Outdoor Recreation Grant for $1.5 million to restore the Lotus Marsh Boardwalk and add other improvements to the site. The City is contributing $1.2 million in matching funds, and the Friends, through a generous donor, is contributing $300,000, the largest single gift we have received in our nearly 50 years of existence. You can find out more about this exceptional opportunity in the article below.
This public/private partnership has been a long journey involving much more than dollars. Many stakeholders worked in tandem to bring about its success. One of our board members, George Bristol, began the process by tirelessly advocating for state funding. Another board member, Marty Leonard, took up the reins and worked with City Councilman Dennis Shingleton and other City leaders to provide the state’s required matching funds. Everyone’s efforts paid off, and the City agreed to apply for the grant to restore the remaining portion of the boardwalk. In an effort to provide partnership support for the grant, the Friends agreed to raise $300,000 toward the matching funds.
So, who is our remarkable donor? Facebook. The local Facebook Data Center recently provided a grant to a local nonprofit, and I wanted to learn more. Through Councilman Shingleton’s office, I was able to connect with Facebook in April 2019. At the time, we had a potential donor for the boardwalk grant match, so I wanted to reach out to Facebook about technology or education funding. I met with Facebook’s Matt Sexton at the Nature Center one sunny afternoon in May 2019 and gave him a tour. He was amazed (not surprising) and was very intrigued with the boardwalk. I mentioned the boardwalk project, and he wanted to learn more. I presented Matt with a project overview, and he initially was interested in supporting the conservation measures with a contribution of $100,000. After months of discussing the project in detail, Matt surprised me with a call in November. Facebook wanted to provide the full matching amount of $300,000. I am never speechless, but at that moment, I was.
The longstanding donor with whom we had been working graciously stepped aside to let us work with a new funder and partner.
This is just a glimpse of the behind-the-scenes efforts of how the Friends advocate on behalf of the Nature Center, continually striving to grow our partnerships and funding opportunities.
Because of your support as a member and/or donor, you make it possible for us to do just that. Thank you.
Please continue to stay safe and healthy,