The Power of Endowment: Georgia B. Lucas
Anyone can turn their passion into philanthropy and invest it for the community good. Georgia B. Lucas, native Austinite, animal lover, artist and businesswoman certainly did.
In the 1930s the George and Addie Lucas family escaped Austin’s summer heat by enjoying their hilltop cabin near Mount Bonnell. The shaded paths, bird song, wildflowers and creek inspired the young artistically-minded Georgia Lucas.
Lucas became a savvy businesswoman, amassing 216 acres of undeveloped land west of downtown. Lucas lived in her home in town, managing residential rental properties across the city, but she visited her private nature preserve almost daily, spending time with her cat companions, dabbling in watercolors and strolling the grounds. Though she was not someone most people would consider wealthy, she lived a rich life, inspiring many people with her sense of humor and artistic sensibility. She was also generous throughout her lifetime.
In 1994 Lucas died at age 76, never having married or had children. Always a woman with a plan, her estate provided for her many passions to be transformed into powerful philanthropy. Lucas’s legacy lives on in two remarkable ways:
Georgia B. Lucas Foundation Fund
Lucas appointed six people to meet quarterly to review grant requests submitted through our Community Grant program that fit specific interests she outlined. More than 200 local nonprofit organizations have received grants from her fund.
Bright Leaf Nature Preserve
Lucas acquired the property over her lifetime to preserve the land so others could appreciate it and benefit from its beauty. She envisioned a place for visitors to take guided hikes to learn about the land’s geology, biology, and ecology.
Per Ms. Lucas’ will, Austin Community Foundation was charged with finding a permanent owner for Bright Leaf. In 2021, Austin Community Foundation transferred ownership and management of the preserve to Austin Water. With this transfer, Bright Leaf became a part of the Balcones Canyonlands Preserve, a system of more than 32,000 acres that exists as a multi-agency conservation effort.
If you have a variety of interests and want to make a lasting impact in our community, consider endowing a fund at the Foundation.
"When does $5 million minus $10 million equal $18 million? That's the power of endowment."