story and photos by Kim Souza
John Tyson, chairman of Tyson Foods Inc., pledged $2 million to the Jones Center Endowment on Tuesday (May 20), bringing the non-profit’s management within $3.5 million of its $30 million goal toward financial sustainability. The gift was made by the Tyson Family Foundation.
Tyson said there are always non-profits asking for donations but few, if any have the reach, scope and legacy of the Jones Center.
“When you give to the Jones Center Endowment, you know that it is helping to support a large social system both in Springdale and now in Benton County because of the 80 or so non-profits who are also helped,” Tyson said. “In the business world it’s good to know there is a high return on investment like we see in the Jones Center.”
He said the Tyson family, their friends the George’s and Hunts all have fond memories of Harvey and Bernice Jones and it’s their pleasure and honor to support the Joneses legacy.
“I remember my dad and I going to see Harvey for advice when my grandparents passed away. Harvey told my dad not to do anything different with the company for one year so that the dust could settle. He was a mentor to my dad and a friend of my grand-dad,” Tyson said.
This $2 million endowment pledge follows $1 million in support given by the Tyson family in November toward the center’s programs and annual operations. It also comes of the heels of a $1 million endowment pledge by the George family last month.
Ed Clifford, CEO of the Jones Trust, said such legacy gifts make a huge difference but so do the smaller, but thoughtful, pledges by so many others in the community.
“Over the last two decades the Tyson Family has honored their close friendship with Harvey and Bernice Jones by generously supporting operations at the Jones Center. Today’s gift will help the Jones Center to a position of sustainability for future generations,” Clifford said.
The Jones Trust set out to restore its endowment with $30 million in late 2012, which will help provide sustainable income for the Jones Center operations well into the future. The Walmart Family Foundation and the Care Foundation were the lead donors in the $30 million campaign. They each pledged $10 million. Care Foundation gave their funds outright, the Walmart Family pledge of $10 million required a 1-to-1 match by Nov. 15, 2014.
The Jones Center Endowment campaign is still $3.5 million short of it’s goal. Tyson urges other who can give to do so because the returns are high and it’s a legacy that will continue giving.
Once the $30 million campaign is completed, it will be added to the existing endowment for a total of $60 million. The Jones Trust board of regional leaders also has approved a strict spending policy limiting the organization to a 3.5% annual draw from the endowment.