The Riley Foundation was formed in 1998 from the sale of Riley Memorial Hospital. The Foundation’s founding members wanted to improve the quality of life for the citizens of Meridian and Lauderdale County by awarding grants to local non-profits. Our original vision and mission continue today to focus on opportunities that will have a significant impact in our community.
One indicator of our commitment is the “cumulative impact” of over $74 million provided for education, healthcare, cultural venues, and economic opportunities. Partnering with other entities in our community helps provide long-term benefits for our citizens.
A major focus for the Foundation has been our downtown area where we have granted more than $49 million in projects. Our first significant grant in downtown was The Mississippi State University Riley Center for Education and Performing Arts, which and has since proven to be a catalyst for other downtown investments.
Our investment into the downtown MSU Riley Campus encompasses an entire block of historical buildings that were restored to their original beauty. We also had the opportunity to provide critical financial support to the Mississippi Arts and Entertainment Experience (The MAX) and the Mississippi Children’s Museum-Meridian during their early development that continues today.
Collectively, these venues provide opportunities in our downtown area for people of all ages to enjoy the best Meridian has to offer. We continue to identify opportunities that will significantly impact our community.
Another focus for us at The Riley Foundation has been “Workforce Education.” We provided funds to Meridian Community College to renovate and expand the MCC Riley Workforce Development Center, allowing MCC to add much-needed workforce training space and programs.
Our investments in downtown, the multiple new venues we are so fortunate to have in Meridian, the workforce and education support we have provided are all intended to make our community a much better place to live, work and play.
Our efforts are also to make our community more attractive to those considering Meridian as a location for their expansions and/or new operations. We work with the East Mississippi Business Development Corporation (EMBDC) as they market our community to prospective companies every day. EMBDC is our community’s chamber of commerce and economic development organization.
They work with our existing industries, our local governments, our school systems, our downtown venues, our area businesses, our healthcare providers, and our military to present the best of Meridian and Lauderdale County. Economic development is not easy and is hyper-competitive between cities across Mississippi and other states.
Join us, and over 500 other EMBDC member businesses and organizations, to help make a difference in our community. Our future is in “our hands” to make it what we want it to be.
Becky Farley is executive director of The Riley Foundation