Forest Park Forever Receives $20 Million Gift From Mr. and Mrs. James S. McDonnell III and the JSM Charitable Trust

Extraordinary multi-year donation will advance Forest Park's urgent restoration projects and bolster the endowment for the long-term care of this civic treasure

Contact: Katy Peace:, 314.561.3290

ST. LOUIS, September 25, 2015 – Forest Park Forever announced today it has received a gift of $20 million from Mr. and Mrs. James S. McDonnell III and the JSM Charitable Trust. With this extraordinary multi-year gift, these philanthropic civic leaders are enabling Forest Park Forever to advance urgently needed improvement projects and strengthen the Park’s long-term financial standing through an expanded endowment. 

“With this remarkable investment in Forest Park, Jim and Libby have demonstrated how critical they believe this civic treasure is to our region,” said Lesley S. Hoffarth, P.E., President and Executive Director of Forest Park Forever, the private nonprofit conservancy that partners with the City of St. Louis to care for the Park. “We are humbled by their generosity, their belief in our mission and the genuine love their family has for these beloved 1,300 acres."

With its expanded role in maintaining the Park with the City of St. Louis, Forest Park Forever is working to preserve the gains made during recent decades, tackle urgent Park-wide capital projects and repairs, and secure the Park’s financial future. To do so, Forest Park Forever is increasing its annual investment in the Park and accelerating the next phase of restoration projects called for in the Forest Park Master Plan. This remarkable gift from the McDonnells supports both these critical efforts.

“Forest Park is a treasured destination and so important to the St. Louis region,” said James S. McDonnell III. “Our family has enjoyed the Park for many decades. During every visit, we see such a great variety of activities, from biking and running to enjoying the Park’s world-class cultural institutions. Elizabeth and I want to ensure that Forest Park is here for everyone for generations to come.” 

“The McDonnells have had an exceptional and lasting impact on St. Louis,” said Thomas R. Collins, Chairman of the Forest Park Forever Board of Directors. “Their generous contributions across fields such as healthcare, education and the arts have made our region stronger, healthier and more enjoyable. We are truly inspired by their $20 million gift to Forest Park Forever. As this gift improves today’s Forest Park and expands Forest Park Forever’s endowment, it will improve the lives of millions of St. Louis residents and visitors for centuries to come.” 

About Forest Park Forever

Founded in 1986, Forest Park Forever is a private nonprofit conservancy that works in partnership with the City of St. Louis and the Department of Parks, Recreation and Forestry to restore, maintain and sustain Forest Park as one of America’s greatest urban public parks.

Along with the City of St. Louis, Forest Park Forever raised $100 million between 1995 and 2003 and dramatically restored many landmark destinations in Forest Park, including the Emerson Grand Basin, the Boathouse and the Jewel Box.

Today, Forest Park Forever maintains Forest Park with the City of St. Louis; raises funds for and helps manage capital restoration projects called for in the Forest Park Master Plan; delivers experiential educational opportunities to teachers, students and adults; and provides information and guides for the Park’s 13 million annual visitors. Not part of the Zoo-Museum Tax District, Forest Park Forever is supported by private donations from throughout the community, including its 7,000 members, 1,100 volunteers and many leading community and corporate partners.

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FundraisingKaty Peace