According to Forest Forward Chief Development Officer Alicia Peoples,
“For residents represented by ZIP code 75215, in the neighborhood known as ‘South Dallas,’ the current life expectancy is 67 years. In this era of modern medicine that is a shockingly low-life expectancy. For Dallas residents just two miles north, an additional 16 years of life are expected.
“With this as a key motivator, Forest Forward made it the organization’s mission to work with the community to combat the causes and effects of systemic inequities through neighborhood revitalization, centering efforts on the advancement and achievements of Black and marginalized people.
“Forest Forward was incubated at a neighboring nonprofit in 2017 and incorporated in early 2021 to bring arts, education, and economic revitalization to the residents of 75215. Anchoring this project and the current 12-acre Forest Forward campus is the rehabilitation of the Historic Forest Theater built in 1949 by Karl Hoblitzelle. The Forest Theater was built as a state-of-the-art community facility and the fourth and final theater in Hoblitzelle’s Interstate Theater chain. (Karl Hoblitzelle: Dallas’ Theater Magnate by D Magazine)
“Unlike its counterparts – The Inwood, The Majestic and The Lakewood, the Forest Theater has been closed since 2008 and seemed destined to be destroyed. Located approximately a mile to the east of Fair Park, the Theater will be a catalyst for economic revitalization – bringing additional jobs, tourism, and entertainment revenue to South Dallas.
“What makes this project so exciting is that Forest Forward is not just about the rehabilitation of a historic and iconic Dallas landmark or bringing amazing cultural experiences to South Dallas. Forest Forward has also partnered with Dallas ISD to transition nearby Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary to an Arts Academy that will now be a feeder school to Booker T. Washington School for the Performing and Visual Arts. Arts Academy students, Pre-K to 8th grade, will use the Creative Lab within the Forest Theater, where cutting-edge visual and performing arts classrooms and performance spaces are available.
“Since its incubation, Forest Forward has relied on donations from North Texas Giving Day and Communities Foundation of Texas to fund this crucial social impact work. Annually, we help 400 students and their families with basic needs, including utilities, school uniforms, and summer camp. Forest Forward has increased the safety of the blocks immediately surrounding the Theater and provides a beacon of hope and an example of cultural excellence through our community outreach and events. Thank you for sharing and supporting our vision of a thriving Dallas!”
* Photo credit: Alicia Peoples ** Graphic provided by Forest Forward *** Photo credit: Ken Colston
In 14 years, Communities Foundation of Texas’ North Texas Giving Day has pumped more than $503 million into the North Texas community. In 2022, more than $62.6 million was raised through 94,385 donors benefiting over 3,210 area nonprofits.