Northwestern University has agreed to a $1 million "programmatic partnership agreement" with the City of Evanston to support the planned new Robert Crown Community Center.
In a statement, Nim Chinniah, the university's executive vice president, said "We look forward to working together to best serve our community.”
Northwestern will distribute the funds in three annual payments, with the university receiving a slate of facility usage time slots and activities in return.
Friends of the Robert Crown Center Board President Daniel Stein said, the NU commitment provides "visionary leadership" fostering that same spirit of community that helped build the original Crown Center.
"We are immeasurably grateful for Northwestern’s leadership and support, and we are delighted to be working with them to help serve and strengthen the families in our community,” Stein added.
With Northwestern’s program investment, the campaign has now officially raised over $5.5 million. The campaign’s progress to date is atypical in that it has successfully raised millions before planners have provided an actual design for the new building and park.
Campaign leaders say that provides evidence of the community’s overwhelming desire to see the Crown project come to fruition. The design process is now underway with the city's agreement with architectural firm Woodhouse Tinucci to produce the design.
The fundraising effort began last March. Its objective is to raise funds to create a completely new, modern community center on the current Crown Park property, including a new branch of the Evanston Public Library.
The project also includes a re-envisioning of the park’s entire layout as well as the addition of artificial turf fields. Estimates have placed costs at approximately $30 million.
The City of Evanston and the Evanston Public Library have available bond financing of $10 million and $2.5 million respectively, leaving $17.5 million to be raised through private donations, sponsorships, and institutional program partnerships.
Campaign activity during 2016 focused primarily on private solicitations of potential sponsor organizations and families able to consider major gift requests. The campaign plans to increase public outreach this year, expanding activities to include mail and online communication as well as community events.