Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation

forever committed to preserving the past, enhancing the present, and safeguarding the future of the Blue Ridge Parkway

aka Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation   |   Winston-Salem, NC   |  https://www.brpfoundation.org/

Mission

The Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation is the primary fundraising partner, 501(c)(3), for the Blue Ridge Parkway, providing support for initiatives along the 469-mile route, including historical and cultural preservation, environmental protection, visitor amenities, and educational outreach.

Notes from the nonprofit

Thank you for taking the time to learn more about our work and how donors make it all possible. Please feel free to contact us with any questions.

Ruling year info

1997

Principal Officer

Dr. Carolyn Ward

Main address

717 S Marshall St Suite 105B

Winston-Salem, NC 27101-5865 USA

Show more addresses

EIN

31-1512730

NTEE code info

Environmental Education and Outdoor Survival Programs (C60)

Environmental Quality, Protection, and Beautification N.E.C. (C99)

Wildlife Preservation/Protection (D30)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Communication

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Our national parks are in trouble with over $11 billion in deferred maintenance and, with no entry fees, the Blue Ridge Parkway (Parkway) is especially vulnerable to the constant decline in funding. While this threatens the abundant natural, historical, and cultural resources along the Parkway, it also threatens neighboring communities that depend on tourism. The Parkway draws more than 16 million recreational visitors each year--exceeding visitation to Yellowstone, Yosemite and Grand Canyon National Parks combined-- and generates over a $1 billion annually in neighboring communities, while supporting more than 15,000 local jobs.As the Blue Ridge Parkway’s 501(c)(3) fundraising partner, the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation (BRPF) exists to ensure that Parkway land, wildlife, cultural and historic sites not only survive but thrive.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Parkway Initiatives

Since the Foundation’s start, our Community of Stewards has contributed more than $16 million toward Parkway initiatives and programs. Our work focuses on Education & Outreach, Historical & Cultural Preservation, Visitor Amenities, and Natural Resources.

Collaborating closely with the superintendent of the Blue Ridge Parkway and park staff to identify critical needs fueled by declining federal funding; Raising funds through individual gifts, grants, endowments, and charitable trusts to achieve projects and programs in North Carolina and Virginia; Listening to our Community of Stewards and representing their wishes for the future of this cherished national park unit; Partnering with other nonprofits, businesses, chambers of commerce, and tourism authorities; Awarding grants for community initiatives that serve the best interests of the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Our mission includes protecting cultural history and engaging the next generation of public land stewards. To improve the health of children and help them connect to the outdoors, the Foundation started the Kids in Parks program and opened its first TRACK Trail at the Asheville Visitor Center on the Parkway in 2009.

Kids in Parks is a network of hiking, biking, paddling and disc golf trails outfitted with free activity guides for children and families. The mission behind these TRACK Trails goes beyond fun; the goals are to encourage kids to be physically active and help them build meaningful connections with nature. In turn, these goals help inspire the next generation of stewards, who will care for all public lands, including the Blue Ridge Parkway. Parks are at their best when people use, appreciate, and care for them.

Each TRACK Trail has a series of self-guided brochures designed to turn an ordinary hike into a fun-filled, discovery-packed adventure. The guides encourage children to truly engage with the outdoors by identifying trees and birds, viewing the forest from the perspective of animals, and searching for natural features, among other fun activities. The ease of the hikes and educational materials provide a positive introduction to outdoor activities. TRACK Trails are fun, healthy, and free. Children can record their adventures at KidsinParks.com to earn prizes and plan more adventures.

Since 2013, the Foundation has funded music programming at the Blue Ridge Music Center, near Galax, Virginia, which passes on the musical traditions of the region with bluegrass, old-time, Americana, and country blues performances.

Population(s) Served
Adults

Moses H. Cone Memorial Park is a part of the Blue Ridge Parkway, a unit of the National Park Service. The park was owned and developed as a gentleman’s country estate by Moses H. Cone, an American captain of industry of the late 19th century who with his brother, Ceasar Cone, brought denim production to the South. Together they built a textile empire that still exists today.
Cone was not only an entrepreneur and captain of industry, he was an inquisitive gentleman farmer who experimented with agriculture and designed and built one of America’s most beautiful country estates. Beginning in 1897, he carefully created an impressive retreat featuring carriage trails, lakes, orchards, fields, and forests. His vision was influenced by a great respect for the natural landscape.
Since our inception, the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation has worked with donors to invest in the preservation of Moses H. Cone Memorial Park, a significant site on the Parkway. The Foundation has already invested more than $1 million in projects there, including successfully nominating the estate for the National Register of Historic Places in 2013. The period of significance associated with the estate extends from the beginning of construction of the manor house in 1899 to Bertha Cone's death in 1947.
The Foundation completed the Developed Area Management Plan in September 2015, which provided a long-term management strategy that will best protect and preserve the extraordinary resources at the site while providing for an enjoyable visitor experience. We began a 3 year $3 million fundraising effort in 2016 to address the most pressing needs of the estate.

Population(s) Served
Adults

Over the past few decades people have become increasingly disengaged with nature, spending less time in our parks and outdoor places, while spending more time “plugged-in” to electronic media. Recent studies show that on average kids spend 7.65 hours per day “plugged-in” and only an average of 7 minutes per day in unstructured outdoor play. The Kids in Parks program grew out of a vision to address these trends by getting kids “unplugged” and physically active in parks for their health and the health of our parks.

In the general population childhood obesity rates continue to rise, with one in three children being classified as overweight or obese, while visits to parks continue to decline. The Kids in Parks program is recognized by professionals across the country as a cost-effective intervention to address these issues. Kids in Parks encourages and supports active family engagement, increases trail use, introduces recreational opportunities available in parks, forests and communities, and creates a network that offers an almost unlimited variety of experience.

The benefits of outdoor play for children are dramatic and long lasting. From studies that show increased brain activity and higher SAT scores when children play in natural settings, to research that links a lower incidence of bullying, ADHD, and depression in kids that play outside, there is clear evidence that children benefit from spending time in nature. Increased physical activity decreases obesity, diabetes, ADHD and other physical and mental ailments that are becoming too common with today’s sedentary lifestyle.

Likewise, parks benefit when people use them. Finding ways to create stronger connections between children and our parks cultivates current and future stewards who understand the value and appeal of our public lands. These stewards can be advocates for protecting our public lands from current and future threats.

While there are many parks, trails and outdoor areas already accessible to both urban and rural families, hiking and other outdoor activities are often perceived to be too difficult, potentially dangerous or unexciting to newcomers. Kids in Parks is a proven program that gets beginners outside using a network of TRACK Trails established through partnerships with municipal, state, federal, and other partners to provide introductory level, family-friendly trails that are equipped with self-guided materials designed to make the experience more educational, enjoyable and fun.

Kids in Parks started with a vision in 2008 to improve the health of children and the health of our parks by making existing trails more attractive and fun for novice users. At that time, the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation, National Park Service and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation joined together to formally link the health of children to the health of parks by creating a strong network of trails and partners in the communities on and along the Blue Ridge Parkway.

The regional program was so successful that parks across the country rapidly embraced Kids in Parks TRACK Trails due to demonstrated effectiveness and ease of implementation. Today, there are more than 200 TRACK Trails in 12 states, Washington DC, and on the Qualla Boundary of the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Nation, comprising a national network of self-guided adventures that inspire kids and families to be more physically active outdoors. Additionally, the program has received numerous national and international requests for information from other public land management and health care organizations.

As one of the only health related nature programs in the country with data demonstrating results, the program has been endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics, recognized by the White House with a “Let’s Move! Champion of Change” award, and reviewed favorably as a practice-tested intervention by the Center for Training and Research Translation — a program funded by the Center for Disease Control. After only a few years years, the Kids in Parks program is now supported by a strong partnership of private and public groups investing together for the health of our parks and our children.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth

Milepost 213- Blue Ridge Parkway near Galax, VA.
The sounds of the fiddle, banjo, and guitar are likely to welcome you when you visit the Blue Ridge Music Center, where the music of our mountains is preserved, interpreted, and celebrated. Cultural preservation is a core element of the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation’s mission, and we advance that goal by funding musical programming at the Blue Ridge Music Center at milepost 213 in Virginia.

Through concert ticket sales, memberships, grants, and generous donations, we keep the sounds of the mountains playing at this major attraction along the Blue Ridge Parkway. Each spring, summer, and fall thousands of visitors come to enjoy some of the region's finest traditional music, including bluegrass, old-time, folk, Americana, country blues, and more at the venue’s scenic outdoor amphitheater at the foot of Fisher Peak. The Blue Ridge Music Center offers free admission to its daily informal Midday Mountain Music performances, featuring talented regional pickers and players, and the Roots of American Music Museum, an entertaining and interactive exhibit that explores the region’s rich musical history.

Population(s) Served
Adults

Where we work

Awards

Youth Engagement Award (for Kids in Parks) 2018

SHIFT

Outstanding Public Engagement Award (Kids in Parks) 2015

Public Lands Alliance

Champions of Change (Kids in Parks) 2012

White House Let's Move Campaign

Affiliations & memberships

Public Lands Alliance 2020

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Number of donations made by board members

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Type of Metric

Input - describing resources we use

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Average number of dollars received per donor

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Number of volunteers

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Context Notes

The decline in the number of volunteers participating from 2019 to 2020 was due to COVID restrictions. The park service prohibited volunteers from working in groups for most of the 2020 season.

Hours of volunteer service

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Context Notes

The decrease in volunteer hours from 2019 to 2020 was due to COVID restrictions on volunteering in our national park. We are proud of our ability to sustain volunteers in the 2020 season.

Number of Facebook followers

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Related Program

Parkway Initiatives

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation page followers. It is a much larger number if factoring in program pages: Blue Ridge Music Center and Kids in Parks.

Number of participants engaged in programs

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Children and youth

Related Program

Kids in Parks (kidsinparks.com)

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

These numbers demonstrate the registered users in each year listed, and specifically our youth participants. These numbers are much higher when factoring in the other family members who participate.

Number of overall donors

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Total number of audience members

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Related Program

Blue Ridge Music Center

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Context Notes

This metric lists paid attendance at Music Center concerts. The Blue Ridge Music Center staff also manages the free Midday Mountain Music programs which reaches an even wider audience.

Total dollars received in contributions

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

This metric includes income defined as contributions received through development strategies in each year. There may be transactional income received by the foundation in said years.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

BRPF exists to bridge the ever increasing gap between the needs of the Parkway and the National Park Service's ability to meet those needs. With insufficient funding, a growing maintenance backlog, and shrinking workforce, the challenges are substantial. With one of the highest deferred maintenance backlogs in the entire National Park Service (NPS) system (approximately $500 million) and more buildings, bridges, tunnels and other assets to manage than most any other national park, it is clear that traditional fundraising alone will fall far short of meeting the resource and visitor service needs of the beloved Parkway.

This reality, paired with current trends in park management, have led to a need for entrepreneurial and innovative approaches to safeguard resources, enrich visitor experiences, and cultivate the next generation of park stewards. BRPF is a professional and forward thinking organization that is designing strategies to meet the escalating challenges associated with a national park. With over 20 years of experience and a mission to safeguard the Parkway, BRPF acknowledges the need for fearless and proactive change in our support strategies.

Work closely with Parkway leadership to identify projects and programs that will best provide long range benefit the Parkway.
Engage donors and communities in projects they care about.

For many years, the actions of Congress and the Department of Interior have encouraged public-private partnerships to support our national parks. Meanwhile, Parkway staffing has decreased by 33% over the last 15 years, adding additional pressures. BRPF has a highly professional and driven culture aimed at change. We can, and do, offer the Parkway solutions that go beyond financial support and recognize there are opportunities to meet our mission of enriching visitor experiences and preserving Parkway resources more directly.

Likewise, national park support organizations across the country are expanding roles to provide education, arts programming, interpretive programs, construction oversight, and facilities management. Currently, BRPF delivers music programs at the Blue Ridge Music Center, provides interpretive support to the Parkway, and often manages rehabilitation or construction projects that BRPF funds.

In 2016, the National Park Service (NPS) celebrated its centennial and, in preparation for the anniversary, Congress approved a competitive bidding process called the Centennial Challenge, which is aimed at encouraging public-private partnerships that address national park needs. Grants are made to park projects that are able to secure private, dollar for dollar, or more, matches. In the same centennial year, BRPF announced the largest project we have ever undertaken: a $3 million rehabilitation effort for Moses H. Cone Memorial Park (Cone). Cone is a highly popular recreation area with a plethora of immediate needs. BRPF has already leveraged an additional $393,262 in NPS funding by committing to meet the match. We now have an opportunity to qualify for an additional $722,000 to rehabilitate the exterior of Flat Top Manor at Cone if we can raise the match which we have committed to doing. With exceptional community support, we have already invested $1.2 million to install a fire suppression system, repair part of the roof, repair historic stone walls, and do extensive landscape rehabilitation. Partners include the Village of Blowing Rock, Watauga & Blowing Rock Tourism Development Authorities, several foundations, and many individuals. However, to meet this match opportunity we still need to raise $680,000.

The 3,500 acre estate is an important community resource for its unique recreational opportunities and rich history. BRPF was responsible for its successful nomination to the National Historic Register, funding the NPS Developed Area Management Plan, and making improvements for over 20 years. However, our goals far exceed physical improvements alone.
By elevating the stature of the estate’s history in the hearts and minds of a broad community and building a cadre of local support, we will ensure its future stewardship.

Financials

Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

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Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation

Board of directors
as of 9/7/2021
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Alfred Adams

Ret. Attorney

Term: 2019 - 2021

Alfred Adams

Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice (retired)

Cynthia Tessien

Wake Forest University

Paul Bonesteel

Bonesteel Films

Craig Lancaster

White Blaze Marketing

Rebecca Reeve

N.C. Center for Health and Wellness (retired)

Billie Howell

Deer Valley Development Corporation

Bob Lassiter

HanesBrands/Haeco Americas (retired)

Jim McDowell

Mountainaire Inn and Log Cabins

John Mitchell

Henderson County Government

Jim Newlin

Fiscal Research Div., N.C. General Assembly (retired)

Jerry Starnes

Commercial developer and realtor (retired)

Bob Stout

U.S. Foods (retired)

Brad Wilson

Blue Cross Blue Shield of NC (Retired)

Jen Zuckerman

Duke University

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? No
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? No

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 09/07/2021

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? GuideStar partnered on this section with CHANGE Philanthropy and Equity in the Center.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
White/Caucasian/European
Gender identity
Female
Sexual orientation
Decline to state
Disability status
Decline to state

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

 

Sexual orientation

No data

Disability

No data

Equity strategies

Last updated: 09/07/2021

Policies and practices developed in partnership with Equity in the Center, a project that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems within the social sector to increase racial equity. Learn more

Data
  • We employ non-traditional ways of gathering feedback on programs and trainings, which may include interviews, roundtables, and external reviews with/by community stakeholders.
Policies and processes
  • We seek individuals from various race backgrounds for board and executive director/CEO positions within our organization.
  • We have community representation at the board level, either on the board itself or through a community advisory board.
  • We help senior leadership understand how to be inclusive leaders with learning approaches that emphasize reflection, iteration, and adaptability.
  • We engage everyone, from the board to staff levels of the organization, in race equity work and ensure that individuals understand their roles in creating culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.