Our Story

The City of San Diego’s non-profit partner in making Balboa Park better for all.

Forever Balboa Park is the result of the evolution and merger of several nonprofit Balboa Park organizations that served the park in various essential capacities over the past century. 

Our primary purpose is to work in partnership with the City of San Diego and park stakeholders to ensure the sustainability and accessibility of Balboa Park through fundraising; priority park improvements, parkwide volunteers, park activation programs; and visitor experience.

In July 2021, two prominent Balboa Park nonprofit groups, Friends of Balboa Park and the Balboa Park Conservancy, merged to form the new entity, Forever Balboa Park.

People walking through Balboa Park on a sunny day

Friends of Balboa Park was founded as the Balboa Park Millennium Society in 1999 by longtime park volunteers dedicated to initiating projects that transcended individual institutions and addressed human-scale needs throughout Balboa Park. Shortly after its founding, Tom Cerruti initiated a name change to better reflect its mission, and as “Friends of Balboa Park,” a substantial endowment fund was established by Dorothea Laub.

Friends of Balboa Park identified needs and projects that would honor Balboa Park’s celebrated past, enhance its place in the life of San Diego, and improve access for future generations. Specific examples of the nonprofit’s impact include renovating the Lily Pond’s infrastructure after a destructive event, reconstructing the Laurel Street Gate Houses, painting and relighting the Cabrillo Bridge, installing high-tech information kiosks, rejuvenating neglected areas of park landscaping through the “Adopt-a-Plot” initiative, and developing a bench and tree dedication program. More recently, in 2017, Friends of Balboa Park purchased and began operating the historic Balboa Park Carousel, and in April 2021, it unveiled an ecofriendly viewing platform for the park’s famed Moreton Bay fig tree.

The Balboa Park Conservancy formed in 2011 as the city’s public-private partner for the management and improvement of the park for all visitors.

Soon after its formation, in 2014, the Conservancy merged with the long-standing service organization Balboa Park Central. Tracing its origins all the way back to 1923, Balboa Park Central (previously the House of Hospitality Association) promoted cultural and recreational use of the park through the Balboa Park Visitors Center and Balboa Park Marketing. These programs provided a valuable service to the City of San Diego, the park institutions, the San Diego community, and visitors from around the world.

During its developmental stage, the Balboa Park Conservancy worked to identify and implement projects to address sustainability and accessibility, gained valuable input from park stakeholders during public forums, co-hosted Balboa Park December Nights with the city, and laid the groundwork for its first signature project in the park: the restoration of the Balboa Park Botanical Building and Gardens. In the ensuing years, the Conservancy conducted a complete tree inventory of the park, worked with the city to plant over 600 new trees, organized and hosted dozens of popular free public cultural events, and launched multiple volunteer programs to support the park’s urban forest and gardens and improve the visitor experience.

Forever Balboa Park continues to build on the legacy and foundation of its predecessor organizations to help ensure Balboa Park remains the world-class destination beloved by generations of San Diego County residents and visitors from throughout the U.S. and every corner of the globe.
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