WTTW/WFMT announce $65 million fundraising campaign – Consumer News

on Sep26

25 September 2017 | 5:00 pm

A $65 million fundraising campaign for WTTW and WFMT will raise money to support programming, upgrade technology, beef up their endowment and deepen the stations’ ties to the community. The public phase of the campaign was announced today.

Window to the World Communications, parent company of the public television and radio stations, launched the campaign in 2012 and began fundraising in earnest in 2013. The campaign, called “Imagining More,” has raised $59.3 million. A lead gift from the Crown Family of at least $2 million (the station declines to be more specific) resulted in naming of the organization’s Albany Park facility the Renee Crown Public Media Center. Grainger Foundation, Alexandra and John Nichols, and Donna Van Eekeren also made substantial gifts during the campaign’s quiet phase.

Campaign funds have already supported several projects. Among them:

•A second and third season of “Nature Cat,” the Chicago-made children’s program that encourages kids to get outside and connect with nature. The program airs on 350 PBS stations nationwide and is streamed more than 9 million times each month, according to the station. Funds will also support nationwide community engagement by the show’s Nature Cat mascot.

•More of Geoffrey Baer’s “10 That Changed America” series, which began in 2013 with “10 Buildings That Changed America.” Coming up: features on monuments, streets, and modern marvels that changed the country. All will premiere in 2018.

•Digitization of the WFMT archives and of 5,600 radio interviews conducted by the late Studs Terkel. The Terkel archives will be available for free to the public, and the website for them will launch on May 16, Terkel’s birthday.

•Development of WTTW’s “My Neighborhood” series, which launched with a segment featuring Pilsen. “It’s a way to highlight positive things going on in the city,” says Julie Dillon, vice president of development. Station officials are not sure which neighborhood will be spotlighted next.

•Technological updates, including a transmitter at Willis Tower installed in September of 2016, which has stopped the occasional transmission lapses at WFMT. Both stations are getting new headsets and microphones, and new LED lighting throughout the building has cut its electric bill by 13 percent.

•Support for the organization’s endowment, now at $43 million. Bequest intentions totaling about $10 million have been promised via this campaign.

Window to the World launched the campaign “to take all we have done to the next level,” says John Brennan, board vice chair and co-chair of the Imagining More campaign. Brennan says 97 percent of the board has contributed to the campaign, and that percentage “continues to climb.”

Window to the World’s last fundraising campaign ran from 2000 to 2004 and raised $50 million. Those funds were used to convert both stations to digital and make the station building accessible. The organization, which has annual operating expenses of $46.9 million, ended fiscal 2017 with a slight operating surplus.



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