In 2017, the Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation formally launched a grantmaking program that honors George and Cynthia Mitchell’s interest in and love for the community of Galveston—George’s hometown and the couple’s “second home.”

In September 2015, the foundation began a planning process for the Galveston Program, hosting a two-day meeting in Galveston that involved the participation of a diverse audience including local, state, and national experts, community activists, non-profit leaders, elected officials, philanthropists, and other key influencers. The workshop included discussions about a host of different challenges, current citywide improvement efforts, and potential funding strategies. The meeting also included a “poverty simulation” that enabled 100 Galveston community members to “experience” the challenges of poverty.

During 2016, CGMF continued to focus on the development of the Galveston Program’s strategy. The foundation’s board believes that if community leaders, funders, and government officials come together in support of a common strategic vision, the island will be in a stronger position to tackle its own systemic, interdependent challenges.

The Galveston Program’s long-term objective is to drive a gradual transformation to safer, more livable neighborhoods and green spaces, affordable housing, equitable access to health care, social services, quality education, healthier environments, and greater employment opportunities on the island.   

The foundation began making a series of small grants to select nonprofit organizations in 2016 in support of its strategic planning process.

Vision Galveston emerged in September 2018, a project to empower the Galveston Island community to define a vision for the future of the city. Over 8,500 people (representing 15 percent of Galveston’s diverse population) responded to a survey, attended interactive workshops, and met in small groups in homes, schools, and nonprofit organization offices. Their comments about what kind of city they wanted, and what needed to be done to realize their collective vision, were synthesized by nationally-recognized consultants into five broad vision statements and 78 recommendations.

This inclusive framework—which was refined with input from experts, a 200-plus steering committee, and community residents and businesses—influenced a final report that was released in June 2019. The report acts as a roadmap for Galveston leaders in developing its City Comprehensive Plan and provides ideas for strategic plans developed by other organizations in Galveston.   

In 2020, Vision Galveston received its 501c3 nonprofit status as a “backbone organization” that supports aligning Galveston nonprofits, businesses, and government agencies to actualize recommendations from its strategic plan.

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