News & Events


Ten-Year, $3.5 Million Gift Secured to Benefit Park County


April 15, 2019

LIVINGSTON, MT — The Park County Community Foundation has received a $3.5 million grant from Montana-based Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation, in conjunction with Montana Rail Link, and Willow Creek Ranch. Over the next ten years, the Park County Community Foundation will receive $250,000 from the Dennis & Phyllis Washington Foundation and $100,000 from Willow Creek Ranch per year– totaling $3.5 million.

According to the Park County Community Foundation, over 85% of the gift will be disbursed to the local community over the next 10 years. 

The gift is the largest charitable gift in the Livingston-based Park County Community Foundation’s history.  The donations will be used to support to nonprofit organizations in local communities and improve the quality of life of residents in Park County. 

“This is a historic, inspiring, and long-term investment in Park County and it’s non-profit community by the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation, Montana Rail Link, and Willow Creek Ranch,” said Gavin Clark, Park County Community Foundation Executive Director. “This gift will help community members and local non-profits address pressing needs from Clyde Park to Cooke City and from Livingston to Gardiner.”

The Montana-based philanthropists behind the gift say their guiding principle is improving the quality of life of Park County and elevating a culture of philanthropy.  One reason they chose Park County Community Foundation to disperse the gift due to the organization’s proven track record of working locally and understanding the grassroots needs in Park County.

“Montana Rail Link and the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation are honored to be able to provide long-term and sustainable support to Park County’s non-profit community. Our goal is to invest in people to help improve the quality of their lives and challenge others in the community to do the same,” said Mike Halligan, Executive Director, Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation. “Park County Community Foundation has the best capacity to direct these funds for the betterment of communities across Park County because of their grassroots connection to the residents of Park County.” The Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation has been investing in Park County nonprofits since the early 1990’s.

Since their arrival in 1882, railroads have played an instrumental role in the economic vitality of Park County. Today, Montana Rail Link employs nearly 50 hardworking local residents who help make the area a great place to live and raise a family. Montana Rail Link is committed to safely providing world class transportation services while remaining a committed partner and neighbor to the residents of Park County.

“Park County, and the people that live and work here, are special,” said a representative of Willow Creek Ranch. “By adding much needed capacity we believe this investment in Park County’s non-profit community will ensure Park County values remain as growth continues to put pressure on existing resources.”

A primary component of the gift will dedicate $1.5 million over the next ten years to launch a historic community giving challenge.  The community giving challenge will be designed to leverage a matching grant to inspire the public to help raise additional funding for community causes.  More details will be released later this spring.

Another $1.5 million of the gift will be used to underwrite the Park County Community Foundation’s existing annual competitive grants program.  The Community Foundation expects the next round of competitive grants to local nonprofits to be announced in May. The remaining $500,000 will be dedicated to the Community Foundation’s Endowment to assist with the long-term health of the organization.

“This gift underscores the trust, support, and generosity of many people in our community. Without which this gift would not be possible,” said Clark.


About the Dennis & Phyllis Washington Foundation

The Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation is the major philanthropic organization for The Washington Companies and the Washington family. The Foundation strives to better the human condition by supporting programs and services that give people the tools to enhance the quality of their lives and to benefit society as a whole. Funding for the Foundation comes from personal contributions from the Washington family and annual contributions from The Washington Companies. Since its inception in 1988, Foundation giving and the Washington family’s personal contributions and pledges to charitable causes total more than a third of a billion dollars. The Foundation website is located at


About Montana Rail Link

Based in Missoula, MT, and formed in 1987, Montana Rail Link (MRL) is a class II regional railroad that operates over 900 route miles of track in Montana and Idaho and employs nearly 1,200 dedicated professionals. MRL provided transportation solutions to over 150 local Montana businesses and moves their product to domestic and international markets on a daily basis. In 2018, MRL safely transported 440,000 carloads of product for local and regional rail shippers. These shipments help feed, clothe, supply and power American and international homes and businesses every day. We are committed to providing transportation services that result in long-term growth and prosperity for our company, customers and employees. We live by our values of fairness, integrity, respect, safety and trust. MRL prides ourselves on being a good neighbor in the communities we serve. You can learn more about MRL at


About Willow Creek Ranch

Willow Creek Ranch is a family owned ranch with a rich heritage in Park County. While the ranch is a combination of several ranches and prior owners, it has maintained a primary focus upon balancing eco sensitive ranching with providing superior habitat for the native herds of Elk, Antelope and Deer. 


About Park County Community Foundation

Founded by community leaders in 2005, the Park County Community Foundation seeks to work with all in Park County to connect caring people and resources with the most pressing community needs and opportunities. We believe many of Park County’s challenges can be solved through mutual understanding, better cooperation and a robust culture of philanthropy. To realize these goals, PCCF is committed to three primary principles: Learn, Engage, and Give. The Park County Community Foundation is a trusted, dynamic and distinctive philanthropic leader that fosters collaborative community action to shape a healthy, caring community. Our focus rests in five program areas: Community Grants, Philanthropic Advising, Community Leadership, Non-profit Development, and Fiscal Sponsorship. Learn more at