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River Center at Grant Park
Creating River Connections to Last a Lifetime

Kids participating in Cool River Program

Inspiring the next generation right along the banks of the San Diego River at the future River Center at Grant Park. Imagine a place in the heart of Mission Valley where kids can go to receive hands-on nature learning experiences - forging a strong connection with the river and its wildlife. Imagine a place for people to go to learn about this natural, cultural and recreation treasure. Imagine a place which reimagines our relationship with our river.


This is vision of the River Center at Grant Park.

More than a decade in the making, you are invited to be part of this incredible project.

Other Donation Options

A Dream Taking Shape For Our San Diego River

We invite you to join us in creating an amazing, inspirational place in Mission Valley which celebrates our San Diego River.

A place that will provide hands-on nature-based STEAM education programs and opportunities for students!

Birdseye view of Grant Park
The project seeks to transform a 17 acre property with abandoned sand mining pits into a special place for nature connections. After many years of planning and permitting, the dream is within reach.

Location: Mission Valley

2450 Camino del Rio N at Qualcomm Way
Google Map


Site Park Plan

We are nearing completion of Phase One of Construction!
  • Parking lot is in (finishing coat and striping will go in later)
  • Water, sewer and stormdrain infrastructure
  • Electical connection and other improvements
  • Street and other landscaping to be installed

Phase Two of construction includes:
  • Conrad Prebys Outdoor Stage with seating for 100 students
  • Butterfly garden and other gardens featuring native flora
  • "The Hub" building with program space, interpretive elements and restrooms
  • 13 acre natural lands research area
  • Hands-on touch tank and other interpretive elements
  • New neighborhood park for Mission Valley and beyond
  • Acoustic shell and landscaped trailside seating

    The Total Building Fund Goal is $9.9M
    Interactive Stage at the River Center

    We seek to inspire kids of all ages to be passionate about the San Diego River and nature through hands-on STEAM programs which are fun, interactive and memorable. Our goal is to focus on serving the 70,000+ kids that live and go to school within 15 minutes. With its location on Qualcomm Way in Misison Valley, the facility will serve many kids who don't have the opportunity to experience nature from communities such as North Park, City Heights, Serra Mesa, Linda Vista and more.


    February 2023
  • Feb. 1 SDRPF receives notice that Phase 2 permit is getting closer to being approved
  • Feb 3 SDRPF determines $168,000 is left to finish Phase 1 of construction to offset rising costs and construction delays

  • Concrete pour of new pathway

    Help keep construction going with a donation today!


By Check:
Mail a donation made out to:
The San Diego River Park Foundation
4891 Pacific Highway, Suite 110
San Diego, CA 92110

Please include a phone number or email so we can contact you about your donation and indicate in the memo field: "Grant Park - Donation"

By Phone:
Call 619- 297-7380 9AM - 1PM Monday to Friday to make a donation by credit or bank card over the phone and for any questions. Or leave a message, and we will call you back!

Gift of Stock & Mutual Funds are a Great Way to Give
Learn More



All donors and their guests will be invited to a special dedication ceremony!

FRIEND - Up To $124

CHAMPION - $125 - $499

Make a gift at this level, and we will include a tile or similar item in your name along the pathway. As these are designed, we will contact you about the tile details..

DISCOVERY CLUB - $500 & $1000

Make a gift of $500, $1000 or more and get your name on an engraved river rock which will be placed along the entry wall near the 100 student seat stage! $1000 or more gifts are a larger engraved river rock.
(Discovery Club Donation Form PDF)


Donations of $5000 or more can be fullfilled over up to 5 years by making a pledge.

Donation and Pledge Form for San Diego River Society (PDF)

RIVER CLUB - $5000

Make a gift of $5000 or more and join the River Club! Your generous gift will be recognized on a permanent sign at the Interpretive Pavilion. You will be invited to a special pre-opening ceremony and kept informed of the progress of the project

A gift at this level will be more prominent than the River Club recognition but with the same benefits.

FOUNDER'S CIRCLE - $25,000 - $99,999
Pledges and donations at this amount will receive prominent recognition at the interpretive pavilion. This special group will have the opportunity to meet with the project architect, get special behind the scene tours as construction advances and be invited to a special reception before opening.


Pledges and donations at this amount and above will receive special recognition at the donor's courtyard as well as all Founders Circle Benefits.


PRESIDENTS CIRCLE - $200,000 and above
Featured naming opportunities are available with a donation of $200,000 or more.

Estate and other planned gifts are greatly appreciated.
They will received permanent recognition
at the interpretive pavilion. Learn More

Interested in other unique opportunities, tributes or have questions?

Please call Rob Hutsel, our CEO at 619-297-7380 or email him at

About the River Center at Grant Park

For more than a decade, our education programs have been taking kids directly to the San Diego River and its incredible ecosystem. Thousands of students have been able to have a wonderful experience. However, the program lacks a safe and secure base - a permanent home so more deserving kids could be reached. A place was needed which was familiar to the kids and that could provide a meaningful nature connection; a place to store equipment and to introduce kids to nature-based sciences; a place with essential restrooms and amenities; and finally, a place that could also be a resource for people living and working nearby.

In 2009, the vision for a new center took hold. Inspired by a family and their personal connection and love for the River, the Grants. The Grant Family donated their 17-acre river-fronting property to the San Diego River Park Foundation. In recognition of this generous gift for future generations the project is known as Grant Park.

Tthis site is in the heart of Mission Valley, prominently located at the northeast corner of Qualcomm Way and Camino del Rio N. The site is easily accessible by foot, bicycle, trolley, bus and vehicle.

It took several years to work throuh the design of the project and to secure the required master permit and approvals from multiple agencies. With comments such as "in your career you get to work on some cool projects, and this is one of them," the City of San Diego Planning Commission unanimously voted to approve the major permit and environmental documents for the project! A fantastic turnout of supporters erupted in applause.

Current Status

Phase 1- It was an exciting day when construction permits were obtained for Phase 1. This includes grading to recover the property from being an abandoned sand mining pit and starting restoration of much of the 17 acres. Phase 1 also includes installing utlity infrastructure and many improvements along Camino del Rio N such as a widened cantilevered pathway, trees and other landscaping, and a new traffic light. Work was on track to be completed, then it was shutdown due to COVID19. The resulting economic uncertainity greatly impacted our fundraising and the project was on hold until late 2021. Work restarted as fundraising continued, constructing as funds were raised. It was an incredible day when the initial layer of the parking lot was installed in September 2022.

The phase has experienced a significant cost increase and supply chain delays. We are working now to raise $160,000 to complete construction of Phase 1.

Phase 2- The necessary construction permits were submitted to the City of San Diego during the summer of 2021 and work continues to obtain these permits. We are pursuing state and federal grants to support this part of the construction as well as gifts from individuals, foundations, businesses and groups.

Phase 2 includes constructing the park, Conrad Prebys Stage with seating for 100 kids, internal river pathway, multiple native plant gardens, an acoustic shell for events on the "meadow" and the "Hub" building. When completed the nature education programming can begin, and the park will be open for all to enjoy!

Future Phase - Add a second building with research lab, classrooms, nature library, exhibit area and meeting rooms; elevated nature boardwalk; water feature; and additional interpretive features!

If you would like to learn more or schedule a tour or presentation about how you can be part of this project, contact Rob Hutsel, our CEO, at 619-297-7380 or by email.

As a 501 c3 public benefit non-profit, your donation to The San Diego River Park Foundation is tax-deductible as allowed by law. EIN 01-0565671.


Donations will be dedicated to the total costs of the project which includes construction, furnishings, start-up expenses, project management, administration and the necessary costs to raise the funds required. Our most recent audit is posted at click here.


Lead Architect: Roesling Nakamura Terada Architects

Primary Consultants:
MIG Landscape Architecture
Rick Engineering
RECON Environmental


General Contractor:

Pacific Building Group

Other Ways to Help:

  • Join the Thursday Team ECO volunteer group for general site maintenance and care
  • Lend your graphic and web design skills
  • Soon, docent, group and other volunteers will be needed. Please let us know of your interest.
  • To learn more about volunteering, please contact our Volunteer Relations Team at



Thank You Recent Donors!

Presidents Circle
Conrad Prebys Foundation

Leadership Circle

Hervey Family Fund at The San Diego Foundation

Founders Circle
California Garden Clubs Inc.
R & V Management
Rita & Brys Myers
Dr. Seuss Fund at The San Diego Foundation

Park Partners Circle
Hattie Ettinger Conservation Fund at The San Diego Foundation
Union Bank Foundation

River Club
Pam Fair & Glen Sullivan
Peg & David Engel
Lynette Humphrey
Peter Thomas
Republic Services
Ann & Bill Dahnke
Damon Valenzona & MyCase, Inc.

Directors Club
Julie Hocking &
Jim Baross
Cynthia & Robert Pencek
Kaiser Permanente

Stewards Club
Robert Mazalewski
Lindy Harshberger
Andy Hirmez
Steven Abbo
Kafan Hana
Ray Ibrahim

Discovery Club
Southwest Strategies

Bill Shaw
Barbara & Jim Peugh
Judie Lincer
Tama Becker-Varano
Fred Kramer in memory of Linda Kramer
The Clay Company
Amy & Rich Caterina

Elizabeth Flynn
Theresa Acerro
Terri Johnson
Eric Unruh
Stephen Haase
DeVerna Rogers
Judy Swink
Molly Gee
DeVerna Rogers
Emilie & Jeff Mason
Shawn Flanigan
Steven Higgins
Ingrid van Duivenbode
William Scherer
Luke English

Pamela Williams
Marina Varano
Shannon Quigley
JoAnne Hutsel
Susan Krzywicki
David Mares
Lauren Edwards
Gregory Johnson
Marti Kranzberg
Norrie Robbins
Patti Turkle
Sophia Frost
Marie Tracz
Tom Leech
Esther Davis

Updated: 12/2021

* Includes Pledges
Please let us know if we made an error so we can correct it right away!

Thank you!

Thank you to everyone who has contributed to support the development of this project!


Patrons of the Design, Permitting and Grading Phases of this Project

Cookie and Tom Sudberry
Alta Company LLC
Philip R. Pryde

The Parker Foundation
Anonymous (multiple)
Westfield LLC
Pat Grant, DVM


Alliance Data
SEAT Planners, Inc.
Sempra Energy Foundation

Principal Life Insurance Company (Hazard Center)
San Diego Gas & Electric
San Diego Kiwanis Club Foundation
Fay Riha
Price Philanthropies Foundation
Claude A. and Johann S. Petty Foundation
Claude Petty and Luis Mandujano
RECON Environmental
Rob Hutsel & Karen Begin

Bill and Ann Dahnke
Beth Bruton
The Rice Family Foundation
Jean Wright Elson
Jeffrey & Jo Ellen Bradley

Up to $24,999
Thank you to everyone who has contributed to this project so far!!

This reflects donations, grants and pledges received.

This list will be updated on regular basis.
Thank you to all donors!

Special thanks to all who have put the River Center at Grant Park in your estate plans!