In 1998, the Mitte Foundation embarked on its first non-academic endeavor—a multi-year, $3 million grant to refurbish Dean Porter Park, in the heart of Roy Mitte’s hometown of Brownsville, Texas. In addition to improving the existing structures and landscape, the Mitte Cultural District was created to bring together existing and soon-to-be-created cultural, historical, and educational organizations and stimulate awareness in the community.
Located in the heart of Brownsville, the district includes museums, parks, theaters, restaurants, shopping, and historic downtown, with its gateway bridge across the mighty Rio Grande River into Matamoros, Mexico only footsteps away. Since returning to Brownsville in 2018, the Mitte Foundation has supported organizations located within the Mitte Cultural District, including the Gladys Porter Zoo, the Brownsville Children’s Museum, the Costumes of the Americas Museum (now part of the Brownsville Historic Museum), the Brownsville Museum of Fine Art, Dean Porter Park, and the City of Brownsville. In addition to direct funding, the Foundation dedicated a portion of its community grants program to acquire, develop, and repurpose properties within the Mitte Cultural District boundaries for charitable and general public use. Now, the beautiful Buena Vida Arts and Cultural Park connects residential neighborhoods to existing museums, parks, theaters, historic landmarks, the Farmer’s Market, and the hike and bike trail. Plans for development of other Foundation-owned properties within walking distance of this new park are still underway.