The Water Cooler at Pegasus Park is becoming the gathering spot for high-impact nonprofits. The social impact hub, named after the proverbial water cooler collisions that foster community and ideas, has announced its “next 15” tenants.
The 15 nonprofits were picked after a competitive application process last summer. They’ll join five founding tenants, bringing Water Cooler’s roster to 20.
The Water Cooler spans five floors in the 23-acre Pegasus Park development built around an iconic 18-story tower near downtown Dallas.
The new nonprofit tenants are: Aspire, Big Thought, Carson Leslie Foundation, Circuit Trail Conservancy, City Year, Education is Freedom, Grant Halliburton Foundation, Junior Achievement of Dallas, Keep America Beautiful, Leukemia Texas, Philanthropy Southwest, Social Venture Partners Dallas, Texas Trees Foundation, TexProtects, and The Trust for Public Land.
Most of the organizations—a mix working on a national, regional, and statewide scale—will move to the campus in early 2022, per a news release.
They will join Water Cooler’s five founding tenants: Commit Partnership, The Dallas Foundation, The Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation, United to Learn, and Uplift Education. The Dallas Foundation and Uplift Education both moved into the Water Cooler at Pegasus Park earlier this summer.
The Water Cooler was created as a home of like-minded changemakers. Its new group of tenants is a diverse mix by design. Their missions span environmental preservation, mental health, workforce development, medical research, early childhood development, literacy, K-12 education, social justice, and more. Many work on a national, regional, and statewide scale.
Founder Lyda Hill calls it an impressive group.
“We’ve long believed that co-locating a diverse group of exceptional nonprofits could help advance inter-agency collaboration to solve some of the most challenging community problems,” she said in a statement.
The social impact hub “is about empowering nonprofits with state-of-the-art office facilities, along with resources and services,”— all designed to help them accelerate their impact, she said.
“We’re honored to provide the ingredients and cannot wait to see what they will do together.”
The Water Cooler at Pegasus Park is sponsored by Lyda Hill Philanthropies in partnership with J. Small Investments. Lyda Hill Philanthropies, which includes charitable giving for Hill and includes her foundation and personal philanthropy, is committed to funding transformational advances in science and nature.
Creating community to drive impact
The Pegasus Park partners think big. At 175,000 square feet, the Water Cooler social impact hub is not only the largest in Texas of its type— it’s among the largest nonprofit shared spaces in the U.S.
Thinking big also applies to its mission: The Water Cooler community can help enable the Dallas social services sector to be one of the most effective in the nation.
The shared space can help organizations attract and retain talent and improve the organizations’ collaboration. It also creates more visibility around the social problems that need to be solved,” Water Cooler said.
The space at the Water Cooler includes full and partial-floor tenants and a co-working suite for smaller organizations, with options that vary according to specific needs, the organization said. Tenants will get special access to its 16,000-square-foot Convene conference center.
The hub offers benefits beyond what it calls “world-class space,” though. Unique offerings include flexible office space at subsidized rent rates and access to more than $5 million in grant funds for furniture and infrastructure, along with free or low-cost amenities and services designed to accelerate the organizations’ respective missions,” according to Water Cooler.
One such resource includes the Catchafire program.
Running the Water Cooler
Water Cooler Director Leighton Watts will manage operations and work alongside the nonprofits for programming, capacity building and collaboration opportunities.
The Dallas Foundation, one of Water Cooler’s five founding tenants, will administer the programming and services for tenants.
“Although The Dallas Foundation is early in its tenancy at Water Cooler, we have already engaged in interesting conversations and collaboration with other partners on campus,” said Matthew Randazzo, president and CEO of The Dallas Foundation, in a statement.
“The opportunities to make Dallas a better, more equitable place will be limitless at this new social impact hub.”
Pegasus Park ecosystem
The mixed-used Pegasus Park campus is a renovation development that claims the former Exxon Mobil tower with its iconic red winged-Pegasus symbol as a centerpiece. Designed to bolster local biotech, social impact, and corporate innovation, the 750,000 square foot campus has office space for industry leaders and entrepreneurs, as well as the Water Cooler social impact hub and a Biotech+ Hub to incubate fledgling biotech companies in Dallas.
The “future-focused” development aims to be a central hub for networking with its tenant mix and location. Located between the Dallas Design District and the Southwestern Medical District, the project by Lyda Hill Philanthropies and real estate developer J. Small Investments includes multiple buildings with state-of-the-art facilities and amenities.
“It’s not just a place, it’s a spirit.”
“What I’m really excited about is the density of people coming together to spark innovation,” Claire Aldridge, a tenant in the office complex, previously told us. “It’s not just a place, it’s a spirit.”
Taysha Gene Therapies, where Aldridge is chief of staff and leads business operations, picked the Pegasus Park campus for its new headquarters last December.
Aldridge, formerly the AVP of Commercialization and Business Development at UT Southwestern, has been involved with the development of the project since its early days. The UT Southwestern Medical Center also leased 180,000 square feet of space in the development earlier this year in one of the past year’s largest leases.
“We’ve got entrepreneurs, we’ve got wet labs space, we’ve got people who can support innovations,” Aldridge said.