Secretary Jewell Announces $18.5 Million Donation to Restore the Lincoln Memorial

Donation from philanthropist moves National Park Foundation closer to $350 million fund-raising goal 

Last edited 09/29/2021

Date: February 15, 2016
Contact: Interior
Mike Litterst (NPS) 202-306-4166 
Alanna Sobel (NPF) 202-796-2538

WASHINGTON – U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell today announced an $18.5 million donation to the National Park Foundation from businessman and philanthropist David M. Rubenstein to repair and restore the Lincoln Memorial and provide future visitors a view of the foundation pillars and historical mementos from workers who built the monument. Presented on Presidents Day and during the National Park Service’s Centennial year, the donation is intended to help people better understand the significance of the nation’s 16th president, and preserve his ideals and values.

Secretary Jewell was joined at the Lincoln Memorial by David M. Rubenstein, philanthropist and Co-CEO of The Carlyle Group; Jonathan B. Jarvis, director of the National Park Service; Will Shafroth, president of the National Park Foundation; Al Baldwin, vice-chair, National Park Foundation board of directors and chair of the Centennial Campaign for America’s National Parks; and Gay Vietzke, National Mall and Memorial Parks superintendent.

“David Rubenstein’s generous donation will promote and protect one of the Nation’s most hallowed symbols and comes at a critical time as our national parks usher in a new century of service,” Secretary Jewell said. “This donation will not only safeguard one of our most visited and recognizable memorials, but will preserve Lincoln’s legacy for future generations to appreciate.”

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 gently clean the memorial, conserve the Jules Guérin murals located above the memorial’s inscriptions, renovate 15,000 square feet of space, including education and research areas, and add an elevator to improve accessibility. The donation will also 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.

“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.”

Mr. Rubenstein’s donations benefitting the national parks include $7.5 million in 2012 to restore the Washington Monument after the earthquake in 2011, $12.35 million to restore Arlington House, The Robert E. Lee Memorial, in 2014, and $5.37 million to refurbish the U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial in 2015.

“These improvements will hopefully enable more people to better understand and appreciate Abraham Lincoln’s remarkable leadership during one the most trying period’s 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.”

“The clear passion to protect and preserve these special places is demonstrated by the generous support of this campaign by donors to date,” said Will Shafroth, president of the National Park Foundation. “As we celebrate this historic milestone, we must be continually conscious that the grand legacy of America’s national parks, and their future relevance and vitality, are dependent on a vibrant and robust public-private partnership.”

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.

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 has raised over $200 million to date towards its goal.

For more information about the National Park Foundation’s Centennial Campaign for America’s National Parks, visit


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

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

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