Barack Obama groundbreaking

Former First Lady Michelle Obama and Gov. Jay Pritzker (D) listen as former President Barack Obama speaks during the groundbreaking ceremony for the Obama Presidential Center in Jackson Park, September 28, 2021.

The Obama Foundation fundraised $160.21 million in 2021 to help pay for construction of the presidential center and accrue an endowment for its initial operating expenses. 

Per its just-issued annual report, last year’s funds are about 10% of the foundation’s total goal, which is $1.6 billion by 2026. Of the total, $700 million is expected to go towards building the OPC, $90 million to start-up expenses (e.g., collecting artifacts and designing exhibits) and $40 million to open and operate the OPC during its first year.

More than half (about 52%) of funds came from individual donors, and about 48% came from foundational and corporate giving.

Operating expenses in 2021 were $41.39 million: 54.8% to programs, 23.2% to general expenditures and administration, and 30% to fundraising.

The foundation spent more than $4 million with 135 diverse businesses on professional services. Forty percent of the services contracted to build the Obama Presidential Center are from diverse businesses, and the foundation said it expects to continue increasing these numbers. 

Construction in progress costs are $114.55 million. More than half of the on-site construction hours will be done by Chicagoans, a municipal requirement. We Can Build It, the workforce partnership assigned to connect people to OPC construction work, has assessed 2,446 African Americans and 995 Latinos; 94% of those assessed are self-identified racial minorities.

The Tribune reports that the 2021 revenue, $160.79 million, was the second-lowest since the foundation's 2014 establishment.

In a letter beginning the report, Obama noted his foundation's work around the world and the South Side in 2021, including the OPC groundbreaking in Jackson Park that September. 

"While this was a difficult year for many, it was also a hopeful one. And we’re doing even more in 2022," he wrote. 

“We have to advocate and organize; to advance our values; and fight for truth over lies—not just because we’re afraid of what will happen if we don’t, but because we’re hopeful about what can happen if we do. That’s what the Obama Foundation is all about, and I look forward to continuing this important work with all of you in 2022 and beyond."

(1) comment

Ross Petersen

The Obama center will need to raise $1.6 billion. So far, they've raised $680 million. That leaves only one billion to go. Their fundraising has fallen, due to the unpopular location - would you want your, or your foundation's dollars, used to bulldoze an Olmsted designed Park? To chop down all these trees? Obama has chosen not to talk to the CBA coalition, not to talk to local naturalists. We have been stonewalled. This is a boondoggle, an homage to the patronage machine mindset. Next phase is the golf course, and the loss of an additional 2,670 trees, and the loss of the nature sanctuary at the SSCC.

What happens if they Don't raise that one billion dollars?

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