Established by successful entrepreneur and philanthropist Dana Brown (1905 – 1994), who is still remembered for his coffee company and safari adventures, The Dana Brown Charitable Trust has made an extraordinary impact on the St. Louis region in recent decades. The Trust focuses on benefiting disadvantaged children and the causes of culture and zoology in our region. 

In speaking with the Trust's Executive Director, Daniel D. Watt, it is clear that there are meaningful intersections of its own focus areas, Forest Park as a regional destination and the mission of Forest Park Forever. 

“Since its founding 30 years ago, Forest Park Forever has been a big success story,” says Watt. “It is an organization that has helped make the Park inviting, safe and open to children. It’s so special for kids, including many from disadvantaged backgrounds who live near the Park, to be able to visit a natural space with a lot of trees and a beautiful waterway.”

Over the past 17 years, The Dana Brown Charitable Trust has donated more than $1.2 million to Forest Park Forever, including a gift that enabled our organization to hire its first full-time education coordinator. Since then, this professional has trained several hundred regional teachers in how to integrate Forest Park into their curricula — something that has affected the learning lives of tens of thousands of students from all backgrounds. 

For the Forever campaign, The Dana Brown Charitable Trust has made a generous gift to support the creation of a new dedicated outdoor learning destination on the east side of the Park, near Bowl Lake and the James S. McDonnell Planetarium. 

Forest Park provides children with an extremely great experience. I hear kids say this all the time — ‘Forest Park is cool, and it’s different.’

This half of Forest Park will be home to a few Forever campaign projects in the coming years, including further connecting the waterway and creating a new waterfall just above Jefferson Lake. 

This particular educational initiative — which shares some characteristics with Council Circle in the heart of the Park — will be a magnet for school groups, including those taking advantage of the restored lakes and improved wildlife habitat nearby.  

“This project really captured the attention of our grant-making committee,” Watt says. “This is a location that doesn’t currently see a lot of people, but it’s a great part of Forest Park. It is just waiting for a place where kids can gather. It will be a wonderful project.”