Great Parks Forever gift could generate $7M for local parks

Great Parks Forever has received a $3 million gift from The Farmer Family Foundation plus an additional matching gift that could generate as much as $7 million worth of financial support for parks, recreation areas and greenspaces across Hamilton County.

Funds will go toward projects such as new trails, park facilities and amenities in Great Parks sites countywide and will also benefit improved access to conservation areas.

Tom Carleton, chief of philanthropy for Hamilton County’s park system, said project types will reflect the priorities emphasized by residents through community engagement efforts.

“Great Parks is following through on the commitment to leverage both taxpayer funding and private philanthropy to allow us to achieve the ambitious goals outlined in our Comprehensive Master Plan while ensuring community involvement and support,” Carleton said.

Foundation trustee Scott Farmer

In addition to the $3 million gift, the Cincinnati-based Farmer Family Foundation awarded Great Parks Forever a matching gift of up to $2 million that could push the total award to the $7 million figure. The foundation’s will be available through June 30, 2025.

“(The Farmer Family Foundation) is excited to partner with Great Parks in its efforts to make our region a vibrant place to live, learn, work and play,” said Scott Farmer, a foundation trustee. 

“We are impressed with the projects that prioritize health and well-being for families and enhance the quality of life for present and future generations,” he continued. “We hope our match encourages others to support this valuable community asset.”

Building a ‘Great’ Hamilton County park system

Great Parks is a separate political subdivision of the state of Ohio, governed by a board of park commissioners. Since its inception in 1930, the organization has worked to preserve and protect natural resources and provide outdoor recreation and education in order to enhance the quality of life for present and future generations.

The park system completed its first comprehensive master plan in January 2019. The guiding document set the vision for creation of parks, facilities, programming and services through 2028.

Plans include things such as the addition of more than 50 internal trail miles and 10-plus regional trail miles through projects such as the Glenwood Gardens to Winton Woods Trail and the Oasis Trail. Other examples include the planned Woodland Mound Nature & Education Center, improvements to the Shaker Trace Nursery and the future 10,000-square-foot destination playground at Sharon Woods

There are several other projects in the works, with details and updates available on Great Parks’ website.

To assist with those goals, Great Parks Forever – a philanthropic partner of Great Parks – set a goal to raise $50 million to supplement taxpayer funding and enable those and other major initiatives over the next few years.

The announcement of the Farmer Family Foundation gift adds to previous major donations from the James J. and Joan A. Gardner Family Foundation, the Bob and Jeanne Coughlin Foundation, the Harold C. Schott Foundation and United Dairy Farmers.

“We are grateful to The Farmer Family Foundation not only for this generous gift but also for their leadership in inviting others to join in creating the park system the community has asked for,” Carleton said.

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