FOLAR receives $100,000 challenge grant

The Mary Morton Parsons Foundation supports Appomattox River Trail by encouraging others to donate – will match donations and gift increases




Photo at left shows existing gravel Appomattox River Trail (ART) through Petersburg Patton Park. Plans are to improved the trail to allow pedestrian and bicycle use similar to the section in Colonial Heights pictured at right. 


Ken Newman, Chair of the Board of Directors and Wendy Austin, Executive Director, announced today that the Friends of the Lower Appomattox River (FOLAR) received a one-year $100,000 challenge grant from The Mary Morton Parsons Foundation. The grant will match dollar-for-dollar all new private donations and grants from supporters who contribute to FOLAR toward building the Appomattox River Trail (A.R.T.) section through Patton Park and Historic Petersburg, doubling the impact of their contributions.

“Whether it’s restoring the river shoreline, providing high quality environmental educational opportunities to thousands of young people, or bringing a world-class riverside trail to our region,” said Newman, “everything that FOLAR does is made possible by our supporters. Their generosity of support in time and treasure makes possible access to a remarkable river for enjoyment by all, right in our back yard here in the Tri-cities. We are honored by The Mary Morton Parsons Foundation’s confidence in FOLAR, belief in our work and commitment to our communities in a way that encourages others to deepen their support.”

The grant from the Foundation will only be awarded if FOLAR can raise the matching amount within one year from the announcement this week. “Once the challenge is met, funds will be invested in the construction of a central section of the trail that will improve the quality of life in the City of Petersburg and surrounding communities as well as serve as sustainable model for developing sensitive riverfront areas,” said Austin.

When completed, the 20+ mile long A.R.T. system will connect communities across six riverside municipalities and Virginia State University through a cohesive trail system and corresponding signage that will improve river access, provide an environment that will serve to increase a culture of health and active lifestyle for individuals and families, improve the economic vitality of the region, and conserve and protect the natural river environment.

Individuals and businesses can now donate to the ART challenge fund through FOLAR, online or contact Wendy Austin at or 804-543-0325.  THANK YOU!