Walton Family, Care Foundations Pledge $20M to Jones Center

A pair of $10 million contributions from the Walton Family Foundation and Care Foundation will serve as lead gifts in a $30 million campaign for the Jones Trust and Jones Center in Springdale.

Both gifts were announced during a Friday news conference in the lobby of the Jones Center, a 220,000-SF facility that provides a variety of recreational, educational and other community services in northwest Arkansas. Included in the facility -- a gift to the city from late philanthropist Bernice Young Jones, wife of The Jones Truck Lines founder Harvey -- are an ice-skating rink, indoor pools, an auditorium, fitness center and conference and class rooms.

Ed Clifford, CEO of The Jones Trust and The Jones Center, said Friday's $20 million donation and the $30 million endowment goal will allow the center to remain full-service for seven days a week. It will also provide the resources needed to maintain a staff of 50.

"We would have to make some serious decisions," Clifford said. "It's a major deal for us.”

Clifford said fortifying the endowment was his top goal when he joined the trust five months ago. Adding $30 million would bring the total endowment to $53 million and generate about $1.7 million per year to help fund operations, Clifford said.

In addition to the $10 million challenge grant, which requires an additional $10 million be raised for the endowment from other supporters, the Walton Family Foundation pledged $3 million to be distributed over the next three years for capital improvements and maintenance projects at the center.

"We are committed to quality of life in northwest Arkansas by part of cultural, educational and economic activities," said Ryan Hale, Program Officer at the Walton Family Foundation. "This is a great fit for us. The Jones center has a very far-reaching impact. It’s great to get behind an organization like that."

The $10 million Care Foundation endowment gift is the latest gift to the Jones Center through the Endeavor Foundation. Anita Scism, president and CEO of the Endeavor Foundation/Care Foundation, said the money "will help ensure this Springdale treasure remains accessible and affordable to everyone."

This marks the 16th year for the Jones Center in Springdale. It attracts a reported 1 million visitors per year from northwest Arkansas.

"We're grateful for their strong support which demonstrates their affirmation of the significant impact that our organizations have in the community," said Susan Barrett, board chair of the Jones Trust.