Constitution Center: The Funding Begins

September saw two major fund-raising breakthroughs--one public, the other private--in the project to build a $130,000 million National Constitution Center on Independence Mall.

Penn is one of the partners in the project, developing scholarly programs and school outreach as well as helping design the museum, which Mayor Ed Rendell hopes to open on Constitution Day September 17, 2002, on the north side of Arch Street, between 5th and 6th Streets. .

In the public sector, where the Commonwealth has already committed to $30 million, a Philadelphia team went to Washington to describe the plans to the appropriations subcommittee led by Senator Arlen Specter (see the testimony of Penn's Dr. Richard Beeman). Mayor Ed Rendell, who also testified before the subcommittee, and Senator Specter and Senator Rick Santorum have been quoted as saying that the Senate appears likely to appropriate $20 million this year.

In the public sector, the legal community made its first major donation as Morgan, Lewis & Bockius pledged a gift valued at $600,000 in cash and services, based partly on one hour's billings from each lawyer and aide in the firm--and challenged lawyers across the nation to follow suit. The cash portion, $365,000, was said by Morgan, Lewis Chairman John H. Shenefield to be made up of $125,000 in honor of the firm's 125th anniversary and $240,000 representing one billable hour for each of its 950 attorneys and 150 law clerks and legal assistants. The in-kind portion of the gift includes setting up a blue-ribbon committee to urge all lawyers across the country to contribute the equivalent of one hour's billing.

At presstime, First Union Corp. announced that it would make a $1,000,000 cash gift, calling it "First Union First Million" and urging other corporate donors to follow suit.

Almanac, Vol. 45, No. 3, September 15, 1998