Forest Forward now more than halfway to campaign goal of $75.215MM; major gifts include $5MM from Communities Foundation of Texas, $4MM from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, $1MM from Constantin Foundation, and $1MM from the Rainwater Charitable Foundation 

Dallas, Texas – February 2, 2023 – Forest Forward has reached a new fundraising milestone in their capital campaign. Forest Forward has raised more than fifty percent of its campaign goal with the announcement of $11.5 million in new investments: including a $5 million grant from Communities Foundation of Texas; $4 million from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development through the passage of H.R. 2617, the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2022; $1 million from the Constantin Foundation, $1 million from the Rainwater Charitable Foundation, and $500,000 from a funder who does not wish to receive public recognition for their gift. Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson, 30th District, Texas, was instrumental in the federal legislation inclusion of $4 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for the Forest Theater restoration and expansion.

Forest Forward’s campaign to raise $75,215,000 is well underway to support the vision of igniting a just, healthy, and thriving South Dallas. “The dollar amount of our fundraising goal is a nod to the ZIP code where Forest Forward focuses our impact, 75215. The life expectancy in this ZIP code of South Dallas is just 67 years, the lowest life expectancy in Dallas County. If you drive even two miles further, the life expectancy increases by another 16 years. This initiative is about impacting quality of life,” said Elizabeth Wattley, Chief Executive Officer for Forest Forward. 

With this new milestone, the campaign is on target for the historic Forest Theater to start construction this year, with a goal of holding the grand opening on the 75th anniversary of the Theater in December 2024.  

“With this infusion of funding, Forest Forward is strongly positioned as a catalyst for sustainable community and economic development in sunny South Dallas. Our strategy is focused on holistic and inclusive revitalization including arts education, cradle to college support, building of mixed-income housing, and the restoration of the historic Forest Theater. We are elated to receive these substantial investments in support of our work that will create lasting impact for our neighbors,” said Wattley. 

“We are especially grateful for Communities Foundation of Texas’ $5 million investment; as it shows they are an advocate and philanthropic leader committed to ensuring residents from all Dallas ZIP codes benefit from the growth and forward movement happening in Dallas,” said Wattley. 

Forest Forward has built a long-term partnership with Dallas ISD and was the catalyst for the creation of the Martin Luther King Jr. Arts Academy, a school with a STEAM curriculum that has already seen tremendous growth and re-engagement from local South Dallas families. The restored Forest Theater will be utilized for courses, performances, and educational offerings.  

“Our grant support to Forest Forward from our W.W. Caruth, Jr. Fund not only helps restore the historic Forest Theater, but also allows them to set a strategic plan that is aligned with our priority of advancing community equity,” said Wende Burton, Chief Philanthropy Officer at Communities Foundation of Texas. “We are thrilled to invest in this important revitalization initiative, and we are excited about the educational, economic, and cultural opportunities that this project will bring to South Dallas,” said Burton. 

The Forest Theater renovation and building project will create 66,000 square feet focusing on: 1) 1,000-seat performance hall; 2) 13,000 square foot arts education hub; 3) studio theater; 4) café offerings; and 5) a roof top feature. 

“The Forest Theater and South Dallas are a significant part of our city’s history and future. Partnering with Forest Forward on this community revitalization effort and its Purpose-Built Communities model is a direct investment in furthering our vision of a thriving community for all,” said Dave Scullin, President and CEO at Communities Foundation of Texas.