The George Family makes million dollar pledge to The Jones Center Endowment

May 1, 2014 | Press release

The Jones Trust is pleased to announce a $1 million pledge by the George Family to The Jones Center Endowment Fund.  The Major Gift Announcement was made during a special presentation in The Jones Center’s lobby this morning.  The ceremony included special remarks by Gary George, Chairman of George’s, Inc. and included a check presentation by the Co-CEOs/Presidents of George’s, Inc., Carl George and Charles George.  Speaking for The Jones Center were CEO/President Ed Clifford and Jones Trust board member Archie Schaffer III.

According to Ed Clifford, “The George family has been an important part of Springdale’s history and the Northwest Arkansas landscape for many years, and we are so pleased with this show of great support by the family!  The Jones Trust board and staff have worked very hard to expand our regional Quality of Life programs and services, and we are delighted to receive this important endorsement from the George family.  Their very generous gift to our Endowment Campaign considerably moves us towards our goal of financial sustainability.”   

On behalf of the George family, Carl George remarked, “Springdale has been blessed by the vision of Harvey and Bernice Jones.  Our family shares their vision, and is privileged to live and work in this community.  The Jones Center is dedicated to strengthening this community, and helping nurture the individuals and families that call Northwest Arkansas home.” Charles George added, “It is with great joy that our family will help sustain Harvey and Bernice’s dream of making The Jones Center a place of education, recreation and togetherness for all of George’s team members and the Northwest Arkansas community.” 

Following the check presentation, Jones Trust board member Archie Schaffer III concluded the ceremony with his own reflections, “As a member of the board, I want to thank the George Family for this magnificent contribution to our endowment.  I know the George and Jones families were very close going back years and years in Springdale, and this is a wonderful tribute to that friendship.  We are thrilled to have the Georges recognize the significance of The Jones Center’s contribution to the richness and quality of life in Springdale and Northwest Arkansas in this most meaningful way.  Bernice Jones would be thrilled to see this happen today!”

The Jones Trust board is working very hard to reach the full endowment campaign goal amount of $30 million and plans to have more special gift announcements throughout this year.  The expanded Jones Trust Board has approved a stringent spending policy limiting the organization to a 3.5% draw to ensure finances remain strong and healthy for many years to come.

Endowment Campaign 

In December 2012, The Jones Trust launched an endowment campaign with the announcement of $20 million in contributions from the Walton Family Foundation and Care Foundation, a fund of Endeavor Foundation.  These donations served as lead gifts in a $30 million campaign that will benefit the short- and long-term goals to sustain the Jones Trust and The Jones Center.

Care Foundation and the Walton Family Foundation have each pledged $10 million to the campaign.  Care Foundation contributed an outright gift of $10 million, while the Walton Family Foundation made available up to $10 million pending the realization of a 1:2 match requiring an additional $10 million to be raised from additional supporters.  All campaign gifts and pledges must be received by November 15th, 2014 in order to receive the full matching grant opportunity by the Walton Family Foundation.  Once the campaign is complete, $30 million will be added to the existing endowment bringing the total to $60 million.

The Jones Center

Opened in 1995 as a gift to the NWA region from philanthropist Bernice Jones, The Jones Center is a unique recreation and education center located in downtown Springdale.  This premier facility is known for its high-quality, low-cost recreation services, innovative youth programming and affordable community meeting/conference space.  The facility includes two indoor swimming pools, an indoor ice rink, gymnasium, fitness center, conference center, auditorium/chapel and numerous classrooms.  

The Center continues to grow through its strong, collaborative program partnerships.  Onsite partners include the American Red Cross providing healthy living programs; the region’s premier youth camp, Camp War Eagle, providing after-school and summer day camp programs; the Northwest Arkansas Community College providing core credit classes; Ozark Education providing a pre-school; the Schmieding Foundation providing an after-school program; and the Springdale Public Schools which is introducing an Innovation School for the 2014-2015 school year.  

Nearly 1 million individual visits are made to The Jones Center each year.  In addition, the recreational amenities are also used to host a number of elementary and middle school field trips from Arkansas, Missouri and Oklahoma.  The Center provides the pool and ice to a variety of regional competitive leagues including the Razorback Aquatic Club, Springdale Public Schools and University of Arkansas Ice Hockey Club as well as for group events such as the Special Olympics.   The Jones Center is also currently expanding its recreational & fitness programs, classes and sports leagues & camps.  

The Jones Center is a private organization with revenues from daily user fees, memberships, room rental fees, individual donations, corporate sponsorships and naming opportunities, grants and major gifts, and endowment distributions.  The facility and campus are owned and managed by the Jones Trust.  Other major funding partners include the Walton Family Foundation, the Care Foundation (a fund of the Endeavor Foundation), Walmart Foundation, Tyson Foods, the Walker Family Charitable Foundation, the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation, and the Foundation for the Mid South, and Cox.   Other corporate sponsors include Unilever, General Mills, Spectrum Brands, Kimberly Clark, Ocean Spray, Arvest Bank, Cargill, ConAgra, Harp’s Food Stores and Northwest Medical Systems.