Fifteen years ago, the creation of Discovery Green transformed two surface parking lots in an under-used portion of downtown Houston into a vibrant green space and a welcoming oasis for all, forever changing our city’s understanding of what a public park can be.
Discovery Green now looks toward the next 15 years with the support of the Kinder Foundation’s generous gift of $2 million. The gift will allow the Discovery Green Conservancy, which is not funded by the city, to establish an endowment. It is an important first step toward insuring the park’s long-term viability. The Kinder Foundation has donated more than $20.2 million to Discovery Green over the past two decades.
“It is very fulfilling to have watched Discovery Green thrive, and to see the neighborhood around the park evolve,” states Rich Kinder, Chair, Kinder Foundation. “An endowment fund will help sustain the park for future generations.”
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Since opening in April of 2008, the park has welcomed more than 20 million visitors and spent more than $10 million on over 10,000 free events. The 12-acre park boasts six permanent art pieces and has exhibited 26 large-scale temporary public art installations such as “Moongarden.”
From celebrations like Rainbow on the Green®, Mexico en El Corazon, and Toddler Tuesdays to concerts from Houston greats like Jason Moran or Bun B, and beyond, Discovery Green offers programming for everyone from A to Z.
The Kinder Foundation’s gift will allow Discovery Green’s uncommonly beautiful, urban green space to continue serving as a village of green for the city, a source of health and happiness for its citizens, and a window into the incredible diversity of arts and traditions that enrich life in Houston.
“Looking at downtown Houston now, it’s easy to forget it used to be an expanse of ugly concrete that everybody fled at 5 p.m. on Friday,” said Barry Mandel, park president and lifelong Houston resident. “Thanks to the generosity of the Kinder Foundation Discovery Green is now and will continue to be a vital place for Houstonians to gather with family and friends, and to enjoy the culture and diversity of the city. This transformation wouldn’t have been possible without the energy and love that Houstonians have poured into the park over the last 15 years.”
As a founding chair of Discovery Green Conservancy, Nancy Kinder played a critical role in making Discovery Green the world-renowned green space it is today. Her leadership on the board helped the Conservancy raise the initial $54 million capital campaign in private funds that made the park possible.
The creation of Discovery Green was the catalyst for the more than $1.8 billion in development that sprang up in a two-block radius. Now, it is vital for the economic recovery of downtown Houston since the pandemic. Discovery Green started a trend with Conservancy leadership consulting with other parks seeking to replicate Discovery Green’s model of community building including Klyde Warren Park in Dallas and Waterloo Greenway in Austin among others.
“Nearly 15 years ago, Houston civic and philanthropic leaders combined forces to make Discovery Green a reality,” stated Julie Sudduth, Discovery Green Board of Directors Chair. “Discovery Green has continued to be a destination that embraces the diversity that defines Houston. The Conservancy has intentionally sought to illuminate the diversity of talent across Houston with celebrated performers, artists, entrepreneurs, and artisans from all walks of life. Discovery Green is truly a place where all are welcome and equity encouraged.”
Discovery Green was a pioneer of the urban space public-private partnership through the support of the founding donors which include the Brown Foundation, Houston Endowment, Wortham Foundation and Kinder Foundation, as well as support from City of Houston and Houston First.
For more information and to check out the schedule of events visit discoverygreen.com