Many are familiar with our commitment to the environment and sustainability through the Cox Conserves program, including grants to environmental nonprofits designated by our Cox Conserves Heroes. But our philanthropic efforts in support of conservation and environmental priorities extend far and wide – and into some unexpected areas. Foundation grants to conservation-oriented nonprofits have protected land, connected communities and promoted a love of the outdoors. These investments have made deep and positive impacts – both in Atlanta and in communities across the country.
Conservation & Environment
Connecting the City
PATH Foundation and the Atlanta BeltLine
In the early 1990s, Atlanta was preparing to welcome the world for the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games. To commemorate the event, a small group of dedicated citizens embarked on a plan to build Atlanta’s first pedestrian and bike trails and formed a nonprofit, the PATH Foundation, to carry out that mission. Among those pioneers was Cox Enterprises Chairman Jim Kennedy.
To date, the James M. Cox Foundation and members of the Cox family have contributed more than $28 million to the PATH Foundation, Georgia’s only nonprofit that is focused entirely on trail planning and implementation. PATH develops multiuse trails and linear parks in Atlanta and beyond, connecting neighborhoods and bringing people together to enjoy the outdoors and improve their health. Research examining the connection between parks, trails and health has confirmed the value that parks provide to people. Trails can promote physical activity and community engagement, and provide both environmental and mental health benefits.
Among PATH’s many accomplishments is the role it has played in furthering the Atlanta BeltLine project. The Atlanta BeltLine is a sustainable redevelopment project to provide a network of public parks, multiuse trails and transit along a historic 22-mile railroad corridor circling downtown and connecting many intown neighborhoods. As Chair of the Atlanta BeltLine’s first capital campaign, Jim Kennedy was an early leader of what has become one of the largest urban redevelopment projects in the U.S. – one that has had a transformational impact on neighborhoods and communities.
As the largest private donor to the BeltLine, with some $13 million in total grants, the Cox Foundation’s gifts have leveraged other contributions and hastened completion of key segments of the greenway trails.
In 2016, PATH celebrated its 25th anniversary and, fittingly, its 250th mile of trails developed. The same year, the organization launched a new $18.6 million capital campaign, chaired by Jim Kennedy. The Cox Foundation made a lead gift of $6 million to support the effort, which will result in development of 39 new miles of PATH trails. The campaign will combine with more than $34 million in public funding for a total investment of $50 million in new trail projects.
Expansions made through this capital campaign will link the Atlanta BeltLine to the city’s institutions of higher learning, to Centennial Olympic Park and other points of interest. It will also help fund the creation of a bike depot offering bike rentals and cyclist parking.
The Cox Foundation also made a $500,000 gift in 2016 for capacity-building and the completion of a new Visitor Center and office space for the BeltLine Partnership, which is slated to open in summer 2017. The Visitor Center will feature educational exhibits and displays and provide trail maps and information on volunteer opportunities and tours – allowing even more people to get engaged and get active.
Keeping the Olympic Dream Alive
Preparations for the 1996 Atlanta Olympics included the creation of Centennial Olympic Park, a public park spanning several city blocks and a focal point during the Games. More than 20 years later, the park remains an important downtown hub.
When the Georgia World Congress Center Authority, the state agency that oversees the 21-acre park, outlined numerous upgrades through a $25 million campaign, the Cox Foundation stepped up to help, committing $2 million to fund expansion and improvements. This gift will dovetail with our investments in the PATH and Atlanta BeltLine, to which the park will one day be connected.
Transformation on the Arkansas River
The Gathering Place for Tulsa
With $350 million pledged, charitable funding for A Gathering Place for Tulsa is believed to be the largest gift to a public park in U.S. history. The Cox Foundation is pitching in with a $250,000 gift to help develop waterfront parks and green space.
A Gathering Place for Tulsa, a project of the Tulsa Community Foundation, involves a nearly 100-acre development to transform the Tulsa waterfront into an active space for citizens to enjoy.
development to transform the
Tulsa waterfront into an active
space for citizens to enjoy
Plans call for the addition of eight miles of new trails, connecting to the existing River Parks trail system, a new playground, lodge, pond, boathouse, sporting areas and two grand lawns. Our capital investments have been supplemented by in-kind donations to the project in the form of network infrastructure provided by Cox Communications, which will deliver Cox products and services to all the park’s facilities.
Protecting our Rivers
Lasting Partnerships with Conservation Groups
Rivers are essential for healthy ecosystems, providing food, fresh water and drainage for countless species, humans included. Cox has long been committed to protecting this vital natural resource. We continue to partner with American Rivers, a national organization that works to protect and restore more than 150,000 miles of rivers across the U.S. The organization has gained federal Wild and Scenic status for more than 12,000 miles of rivers and safeguards public health by working to eliminate sewage and stormwater pollution in our waterways. The Cox Foundation made a $1 million gift to American Rivers for capacity-building in 2016, adding to a previous $1 million grant provided in 2014. Cox Enterprises has partnered with the organization since 2010 and sponsors the National River Cleanup. Cox president and chief executive officer Alex Taylor chairs the organization’s board.
We also contribute to the protection of the watershed in our hometown of Atlanta. Chattahoochee Riverkeeper (CRK) works to protect our local river, the Chattahoochee, which begins in the North Georgia mountains and snakes southward to Florida. It is an important source of both drinking water and outdoor recreation. Cox employees regularly partner with CRK on river cleanups, and in 2015, the Foundation showed further support with a $400,000 capacity-building grant.