Mill Creek MetroParks Foundation launches endowment campaign

In kicking off a campaign at the start of this year to establish endowments for Mill Creek MetroParks, staff members hoped to raise $250,000 in 2018.

They reached that amount by the end of January, and have now surpassed $520,000.

MetroParks Development Director Chris Litton said he is encouraged by the positive start to the MetroParks’ first organized endowment plan.

“I think people have been waiting for opportunities like this to help the park,” he said.

Efforts have been underway over the last year or so to transform the Mill Creek MetroParks Foundation from an organization that primarily distributes funding into one that raises money. The endowment campaign is part of that effort, and aims to help maintain areas in the MetroParks in perpetuity and decrease the park district’s dependence on tax dollars.

“This is the first attempt to go out and create structured endowments on behalf of the park,” Litton explained.

So far, the foundation has received gifts from 21 donors, which have established nine endowments: the Golf Course, Fellows Riverside Gardens, Lily Pond, Trails, Joanne F. Beeghly Rose Garden, Land Preservation, Ford Nature Center, and Collier MetroParks Bikeway endowments, as well as a general endowment.

The Joanne F. Beeghly Rose Garden Endowment was established with a $215,000 donation to benefit Fellows Riverside Gardens’ Rose Garden. A $100,000 donation established the Collier MetroParks Bikeway Endowment, a component of the Community Foundation of the Mahoning Valley. An anonymous donor gifted $200,000 to benefit Ford Nature Center.

There is no minimum amount to establish an endowment. Naming rights are available with donations of $100,000 or more.

The foundation hopes to not only attract large gifts, but a large number of small donations.

“We expected small contributions, large volume. And we still do,” Litton said. “We’re hopeful we see more than 100 donors before the year is out.”

The foundation is sending out information to residences in the county. Individuals interested in donating can send checks to the Mill Creek MetroParks Foundation at P.O. Box 596, Canfield, Ohio 44406 or donate online at

As for why people should consider contributing, Litton said: “I think people generally say the park is the gem of the Mahoning Valley. People care about the park. People love using the park, and this is an opportunity to benefit specific areas of the park.”

“If you talk to 10 different people, you get 10 different reasons why people love using the park,” he said. “This gives individuals an opportunity to benefit those areas.”

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