Gulf Coast Community Foundation helps Venice Urban Forest blossom

$100,000 grant to be used for third phase of project helmed by Venice Area Beautification

he Gulf Coast Community Foundation recently awarded Venice Area Beautification Inc. (VABI) — a 30-year-old, volunteer-based organization — a $100,000 grant to support Phase 3 of the Venice Urban Forest, the Foundation has announced.

Since 1998, Gulf Coast has provided more than $1.5 million dollars in its “historic partnership with VABI,” a news release notes. “Phase 3 is the final phase of the Urban Forest,” which stretches along an industrial corridor, the release adds. It focuses on “installation of additional irrigation piping to irrigate all the new trees and understory plants. The grant will cover the cost for native trees to be bought and planted, including 400 slash pines, 200 red cedars, and 10 longleaf pines,” the release adds.

The Urban Forest is home to more than 90 different species of birds, the release points out. “The grant is especially timely after the Urban Forest suffered damage from Hurricane Ian, losing approximately 125 trees,” the release adds.

“The Venice Urban Forest, powered in part by funding from Gulf Coast, is an environmental safe haven for wildlife, clean water, and a place of natural respite for residents and visitors,” said Jon Thaxton, the Foundation’s senior vice president of community leadership, in the release. “The secret sauce in the success of this project has been the hardworking volunteers of VABI who have not been deterred by rain, heat, or hurricanes in their mission to create an accessible and beautiful walking trail forest for all,” he added in the release.

“Gulf Coast Community Foundation has been a constant and strong supporter of VABI and many of its endeavors over the years,” Nancy Woodley, president of the VABI board of directors, said in the release. “I am very thankful that I live in a community where such a generous foundation has supported this organization from the beginning,” she added. “The Venice Urban Forest is a magical place for future generations to enjoy. We are grateful for Gulf Coast’s impact on this long-lasting endeavor,” Woodley continued in the release.

The future of the Urban Forest includes the use of “natural materials to stabilize a maintenance pathway so the volunteers can continue to maintain the property,” the release explains. Phase 1 “is open to all from dawn to dusk. To learn more about the Venice Urban Forest, visit

Venice Area Beautification is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that “embraces a vision of Venice that retains its small-town flavor and history,” the release says. “Planning is focused on timeless projects that offer all residents and visitors a safe place to walk, discover the enchantment of nature, connection to neighborhoods and parks, and experience outdoor art and sculpture,” the release adds.

To learn more about the Foundation, visit