Thursday, June 15, 2000

Freedom Center campaign hits $48M

Museum aims for $90M goal

By Marie McCain
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Fund-raising for the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center has reached $48 million, officials announced Wednesday.

        “Of that amount, $30 million has come from private donations, while $18 million has come from government sources,” said fund-raising campaign co-chair John Pepper, chairman of Procter & Gamble Co.

        The $90 million campaign hopes to attract at least $5 million in contributions from individual Tristate businesses and residents.

        In addition, former U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Jack Kemp, Nobel Prize winners Toni Morrison and Elie Wiesel, and well-known poet, author and educator Maya Angelou have agreed to act as honorary chairs for the initiative.

        The announcements were made Wednesday by Ed Rigaud, president and chief executive officer of the Freedom Center, and Mr. Pepper.

        The initiative will celebrate the courage of the Underground Railroad, a secret network that helped slaves gain freedom.

        The museum will be three buildings, located between Vine and Walnut streets on the riverfront, connected by glass walkways.

        It is scheduled to open in 2003.

        Half of the money will be used for construction. The rest will be spent on exhibits, programs, design fees and a $10 million endowment.

        Officials hope to break ground by January 2002.

        In December, the fund received joint donations totaling $1 million from foundations for Western-Southern Life Insurance Co. and PNC Bank.

        In April, the state awarded the project $3.5 million.

        On Wednesday, officials said P&G has contributed about $6 million, while Mr. Pepper and his wife, Francie, have donated $3 million.

        Locally, officials lauded donations of $100 each from Winton Hills Middle School, Mariemont Public Schools, North Avondale Montessori School and Kilgour Elementary School.

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