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.
We do this by:
- 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. Since 2013, the Foundation has funded music programming at the Blue Ridge Music Center, which passes on the musical traditions of the region with bluegrass, old-time, Americana, and country blues performances.
The Foundation was founded in Winston-Salem in 1997 by Dr. Houck Medford, Ray Hornak, and a group of civic leaders. Medford served as the executive director and chief executive officer of the Foundation until November 2010. At that time, Dr. Carolyn Ward, then chief operating officer, assumed the role of CEO. Since 1997, the Foundation has provided more than $12 million in funding for Blue Ridge Parkway projects and programs.