New Foundation Created to Enhance AR Parks & Recreation

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (News release) – A new nonprofit organization will provide an innovative approach for enhancing parks and recreational opportunities in Arkansas.

Parks and Recreation Foundation of Arkansas is a 501(c)(3) entity organized to support, protect, enhance, and add value to places that provide exceptional recreation experiences across the state.

Little Rock attorney John Gill is founding board chairman of the newly created organization. 

“Until now, there has not been an effective way to channel private resources into our parks for worthy projects,” said Gill. "Arkansas is blessed with abundant beautiful outdoor places to recharge the spirit and enjoy nature, including our 52 state parks, which provide quality of life for residents and attract visitors to our state.” 

Gill also announced that Suzanne Grobmyer, formerly Director of Major Gifts for the CHI St. Vincent Foundation, will serve as executive director. He says her vast experience with nonprofits and extensive network will help the Arkansas Parks and Recreation Foundation create a bright future.

“Our goal is to accelerate progress towards becoming a world-renowned destination for outstanding outdoor recreation, ” Grobmyer said. “We intend to capitalize on the potential offered by our state’s natural attractions with the help of others who see the importance of parks and recreation for our people and our economy.” 

The Walton Family Foundation, which invests in projects that promote cultural, educational and economic opportunities throughout Arkansas, provided a three-year $310,000 grant for initial support for the Arkansas Parks and Recreation Foundation. Funds will be earmarked for new infrastructure projects, upgrades to existing facilities and maintaining quality outdoor offerings. An ongoing fundraising campaign will soon be launched.

“As Northwest Arkansas becomes one of the most desirable places to the live in the U.S., natural assets such as hiking and mountain biking trails are a key part of this narrative,” said Steuart Walton, Walton Family Foundation board member. “We know parks across the state will also enjoy long-term benefits from the establishment of the Arkansas Parks and Recreation Foundation.”

According to the Outdoor Industry Association, nearly 65 percent of Arkansas residents participate in outdoor recreation each year. In total, the state’s outdoor industry accounts for $9.7 billion in consumer spending annually, 96,000 direct jobs and $2.5 billion in wages and salaries. 

The Arkansas Parks and Recreation Foundation’s trustees include Gill, Bryan Day of Little Rock, Ed Nicholson of Prairie Grove, Jane Rogers of Little Rock, Jim Shamburger of Hot Springs, and Craig Soos of Rogers.

Click here for more information about the Arkansas Parks and Recreation Foundation. 

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