Entrepreneur and philanthropist Lyda Hill, a granddaughter of the legendary oilman H.L. Hunt, credits the Junior League of Dallas with showing her “the other side” of the community years ago, inspiring her to a heightened social consciousness. This evening she helped repay the organization, which announced that Hill had pledged a lead gift of $5 million to establish the Junior League of Dallas Centennial Endowment Foundation.
Hill, a past president of the JLD, also pledged an additional $5 million challenge grant that will match gifts over the next two years, for a total of $15 million. The purpose of the Centennial Endowment, which is being established as a separate 501(c)3 whose sole beneficiary is the JLD, is to fully fund the group’s extensive leadership and volunteer training efforts. Former league president Connie O’Neill will chair a board of trustees to lead the new endowment, whose overall goal will be to raise $25 million over the next 10 years.
The announcement, made to kick off the JLD Centennial that will be in 2022, attracted a crowd of about 100 people to the league’s headquarters on Inwood Road. Among them: Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins, Caren Prothro, Pam Busbee, Christie Carter, Lynn McBee, Paige McDaniel and Jill Smith.
In a statement, Centennial Co-Chair Margo Goodwin said: “Making sure the critical part of our mission—training our volunteers—is fully funded will ensure that, in time, 100 percent of all donor dollars raised by our traditional ongoing League fundraising initiatives can be dedicated to our community partner agencies.”
Margo, who was joined onstage by Centennial Co-chair Andrea Cheek for the announcement, said that, in terms of gift’s for Lyda’s matching grant, there has been “100 percent participation” so far from the league’s Centennial Committee, Advisors, and Endowment trustees. She also disclosed that the late Ruth Altshuler had inspired the volunteer-training endowment idea, even “whispering a name” for the lead gift—and then “we followed through.”
“Ruth and mom were best friends, so it’s no surprise she got me in trouble,” Lyda told the crowd jokingly, referring to her late mother, Margaret Hunt Hill. “The League did for me what it did for Ruth—showed me the other side of Dallas. I want to make a difference.” Recalling her pledge to Warren Buffett to donate her fortune to charity, Lyda said, “Warren Buffett told me, ‘Don’t do what other people can do or will do. Do what other people can’t do or won’t do.’ Is that me, or what?!”
Following the announcement, Jenkins agreed. “I think it’s great,” he said. “The Junior League is a powerful force for good in our community, and Lyda is an awesome community treasure that does what others can’t do.”
The JLD provides leadership opportunities to more than 5,000 women each year through more than 26,000 cumulative hours of formal and “experential” training. Leadership and volunteer training are at the heart of the group’s mission, with volunteers working in the group’s partner agencies and, later on, serving on for-profit and nonprofit boards, volunteering with various causes, and helping raise money for the groups.
Junior League of Dallas President Alicia Hall estimated that training, and support for training, consumes about $1 million of the JLD budget each year. Separately, Hall also confirmed that the Junior League will no longer be involved with the annual Linz Award, which has benefited its Community Service Fund. Instead, Hall said, the award now will be overseen by The Dallas Morning News, and the JLD Sustainers are considering ways to replace the lost revenue.
* Photo credit: Tamytha Cameron