These philanthropists approached then-Mayor Bill White with an idea to acquire the Houston Center Gardens adjacent to downtown Houston’s George R. Brown Convention Center property and create a permanent downtown greenspace and public park. In addition to committing a grant of $10 million from the foundation, Nancy Kinder served as the founding chairman of Discovery Green Conservancy, the nonprofit organization that built and now operates the park. The park was an immediate success with thousands of visitors flocking to the park – weekdays and weekends – to enjoy its natural features but also its active programming offered free to the public.discoverygreen.com
10th Anniversary and Beyond
The park, which marked its 10thanniversary in 2018, has had a tremendous impact. It is a destination for Houstonians and visitors alike, attracting more than a million people every year and hosting hundreds of events ranging from festivals, concerts, films, exercise classes, toddler activities, and more. In April 2019, Discovery Green was named one of the year’s “Great Places in Texas” by the Texas Chapter of the American Planning Association.
To commemorate the anniversary and support future improvements to the park, the foundation granted $3 million in 2017.
The foundation went on to support the Bayou City Music Series, a new concert series honoring the great jazz, blues and zydeco musicians of Houston in free concerts taking place in Discovery Green, Buffalo Bayou Park and Emancipation Park.
In February 2023, Kinder Foundation made a $2 million grant enabling the Discovery Green Conservancy, which is not funded by the city, to establish an endowment.