David Rubenstein Donates $18.5 Million to the National Park Foundation to Restore the Lincoln Memorial

Monday, February 15, 2016NPF News

WASHINGTON – The ideals and values of our nation’s 16th president, Abraham Lincoln, will be honored and shared for generations to come thanks to an $18.5 million gift from businessman and philanthropist David M. Rubenstein. The Presidents’ Day donation, presented during the National Park Service’s centennial year, will expand educational resources, foster public access, and repair and restore the Lincoln Memorial. It is Rubenstein’s fourth gift to benefit our country’s national parks. 

Mr. Rubenstein’s gift to the National Park Foundation’s Centennial Campaign for America’s National Parks will allow the National Park Service to repair damaged brick and marble masonry and clean the memorial; conserve the Jules Guérin murals located above the memorial’s inscriptions; create approximately 15,000 square feet of functional space including exhibit, education and research areas; and add an elevator to improve accessibility. A special project will provide future visitors with a glimpse of the memorial’s foundational pillars, which anchor the memorial to the bedrock, and of the graffiti of the workers who built the monument in the early twentieth century.

“These improvements will hopefully enable more people to better understand and appreciate Abraham Lincoln’s remarkable leadership during one of the most trying periods in American history,” David Rubenstein said. “I am humbled to be a part of honoring this great man and preserving this iconic memorial for future generations.”

“This generous donation by David Rubenstein, his fourth to benefit national parks, comes at a perfect time as our national parks usher in a new century of service to this nation,” said U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell. “His act of ‘patriotic philanthropy’ will not only safeguard one of our most visited and recognizable memorials for future generations, but will also help preserve Lincoln’s legacy to this country.”     

“Beyond honoring Abraham Lincoln and his presidency, the Lincoln Memorial has stood witness to key events and significant figures in America’s Civil Rights Movement, from Marian Anderson to Martin Luther King, Jr.,” National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis said. “We are honored that David Rubenstein’s generous gift and patriotism will help the National Park Service tell the diverse stories of America’s past and demonstrate their continued importance to our nation.”

As the official charity of America’s national parks and nonprofit partner to the National Park Service, the National Park Foundation received the gift as part of its Centennial Campaign for America’s National Parks, which was formally announced today. The largest comprehensive fundraising campaign in the Foundation’s history, this $350 million effort will make transformative investments to protect America’s special places, connect people from all backgrounds to parks, and inspire future generations of national park stewardship. With the addition of Rubenstein’s gift, the Foundation’s total fundraising is more than $200 million.  

“Mr. Rubenstein’s gift will better allow the Lincoln Memorial to stand the test of time, providing current and future generations the opportunity to connect more deeply with the values our 16th president held dear, and inspire dialogue to help us learn from one another,” said Will Shafroth, president of the National Park Foundation. “Mr. Rubenstein’s continued support of national parks truly embodies the legacy of private citizens who originally protected the places that they loved. Preserving treasured places and saving history, his actions serve as a guiding light inspiring others to do the same as we move into the next century.”

From its inception, the national park system has benefited from private support. Many of the earliest national parks were the direct beneficiaries of generous philanthropists who stepped forward to keep national parks protected and open to everyone.

A leader following in this incredible tradition, Mr. Rubenstein’s gifts of patriotic philanthropy benefitting the National Park Service are, in 2012, $7.5 million to restore the Washington Monument after the earthquake; $12.35 million to restore Arlington House, The Robert E. Lee Memorial, in July 2014; and $5.37 million to refurbish the U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial in April 2015.

Learn more about the National Park Foundation’s Centennial Campaign for America’s National Parks.

More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America's 410 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities. Learn more at www.nps.gov.

David M. Rubenstein is Co-CEO of The Carlyle Group, a global alternative asset manager based in Washington, DC. He is also Chairman of the Boards of Trustees of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and Duke University, a Regent of the Smithsonian Institution, Co-Chairman of the Brookings Institution, Vice-Chairman of the Council on Foreign Relations and President of the Economic Club of Washington. In 2012, Rubenstein donated $7.5 million to repair the earthquake-damaged Washington Monument and in 2014, $12.35 million to restore Arlington House, The Robert E. Lee Memorial. In 2013 he donated $10 million to George Washington’s Mount Vernon home to support the construction and endowment of a library to house Washington’s books and papers and to serve as a center for leadership training. 

The National Park Foundation is the official charity of America’s national parks and nonprofit partner to the National Park Service. Chartered by Congress in 1967, the National Park Foundation raises private funds to help PROTECT more than 84 million acres of national parks through critical conservation and preservation efforts, CONNECT all Americans with their incomparable natural landscapes, vibrant culture and rich history, and INSPIRE the next generation of park stewards.  Find out more and become a part of the national park community at www.nationalparks.org.