OPC courtyard

A rendering of the Obama Presidential Center's Museum Building courtyard.

The Obama Foundation has set a $400 million fundraising goal from corporate, philanthropic and individual sources in Chicago to construct the Obama Presidential Center and establish the $75 million "Hometown Fund" for economic development and youth programming.

The OPC itself is estimated to cost the foundation nearly $500 million; the foundation has agreed to build and maintain its Jackson Park campus, which the city will own once completed.

Earlier this month, Mayor Lori Lightfoot marked the beginning of $200 million worth of widespread construction in the park in preparation for the OPC's groundbreaking later this year.

Courtney Williams, an Obama Foundation spokeswoman, said the organization has raised $847 million to date, which has been used to support OPC pre-construction costs as well as the foundation's domestic and global leadership programming. She noted that the OPC’s price tag only covers its hard construction costs.

"We will continue to raise funds in the weeks and months ahead to support the construction of the OPC, exhibits, programming and an endowment," she said over email.

Some Chicagoland-based companies and foundations that have already signed on as corporate partners include Exelon, Boeing, Health Care Service Corporation/Blue Cross Blue Shield, Illinois Tool Works, the Alphawood Foundation, the Chicago Community Trust, the Joyce Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation, the Robert R. McCormick Foundation and the Fifth Third Chicagoland Foundation.

“We are seeing significant interest from civic and corporate leaders in Chicago who want to be part of this movement to change the economic trajectory of the South Side of Chicago,” said foundation President Valerie Jarrett in a statement. “We’re proud to be able to convene these leaders and channel investment in ways that will strengthen our community.”

The Hometown Fund is due to fund workforce training programs on the South and West sides and continue funding civic and mentoring programs like My Brother's Keeper and the Girls Opportunity Alliance.

The fundraising campaign is slated to take place over the next five years.

(2) comments

Ross Petersen

Dear Obama Foundation, I welcome the Obama Center to the South side of Chicago. But this really shouldn't be built inside the Park, when vacant lots lie across the Street. This would enlarge the Park, and build a bridge to the University. I'm speaking of the site of the (former) Plaisance Hotel, stood at 60th and Stony Island. Build Westward, right over the RR tracks. The land is vacant, now. Another site - West of ML King Drive.

But please don't build the Obama Center in Jackson Park. It is a nature area like no other, and millions of birds migrate through it; we fear this building is going to cause collisions. The Lakefront, and its environs, are sensitive habitat. The controversy can't be good for fundraising. I ask you to relocate the Obama Center to any number of sites, locations in the City. This would be seen as a generous gift, to the environment.

Ross Petersen

Dear Obama Foundation, when originally proposed, the fundraising for the OPC, along with an endowment, to pay ongoing costs, was to be the responsibility of the foundation. Funds adequate to build and funds, invested, for their endowment. It now appears these terms have been changed,

How much of an endowment is sought, and how much has been raised, so far?

This article manages to leave this information, out.

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