The Power of Endowment:
Georgia B. Lucas

When does $5 million minus $10 million equal $18 million?

More than twenty years ago the $5 million estate of Georgia B. Lucas, native Austinite, was endowed and has since granted more than $10 million to the community. Yet the value of her endowment has grown to more than $18 million and will continue to provide for Austin needs forever. That’s the power of endowments.

A Lover of the Land

Georgia B. Lucas was a native Austinite, animal-lover, artist and businesswoman who turned her passionate interests into a legacy that continues to enrich Austin a generation after her death.

Lucas grew up in Austin in the 1920s and thirties, a girl with an artistic bent who loved wandering the woods. Her family would escape the swelter of summer in the city at their hilltop cabin near Mount Bonnell. The shaded paths, bird song, wildflowers and creek were a life-long inspiration and became her refuge and home as an adult.

A Life of Generosity

Lucas was 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.

Creating a Legacy for Austin

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 left her beloved sanctuary to our community. While her initial plan for maintaining and managing the preserve did not work out, she wisely named the Foundation as the back-up owner. Since 2006 we have cared for the preserve, following her wishes to provide guided hikes to school children and families in a manner that respects and nurtures the property and wildlife who make their home there. Learn more.

--Robin Bradford

IMAGES OF Georgia B. Lucas & her legacy