WGBH today announced the largest philanthropic gift it has ever received: a $7 million, multi-year grant from the Jean Yawkey Foundation to support the public broadcaster's new state-of-the-art headquarters to be built in Brighton.
The contribution represents a new level in a long history of Yawkey Foundation generosity to WGBH, and comes in response to the "Breaking New Ground" capital campaign for the new headquarters.
"We are deeply grateful to the trustees of the Yawkey Foundation and the executive director, John Harrington, for this generous gift," said WGBH president Henry Becton, Jr. "With their assistance, WGBH will have new, welcoming spaces, making it possible for us to fully participate in and contribute to the rich cultural life of our community as a convenor of screenings, lectures and public events."
The new facility presents opportunities never before available to WGBH in Boston. The technologi-cally advanced design will enable WGBH to apply its more than five decades of experience and expertise to the creation of educationally rich programs and services that make a real difference in the lives of individuals, families, and communities here in New England and across the United States. New public spaces will ensure that WGBH can welcome a diversity of audiences to engage in live experiences that deepen their connection with the public broadcaster.
In recognition of the Foundation's gift, WGBH will name two of the communal space—the 200-seat theater and the main entrance hall of the new studio building—in the Yawkeys' memory. A two-story open space, with a floor-to-ceiling glass wall on one side of WGBH's complex, the new Yawkey Hall will be central to the building, serving as the nexus for visitors and audience members attending WGBH's many public gatherings.
The Yawkey Theater will be used for film and video screenings, lectures, teacher trainings and other functions, for the first time allowing WGBH to showcase its productions and share the presentations of others in its own facility.
"Yawkey Hall and Yawkey Theater will help WGBH anticipate the many ways we will interact with the community and the growing connections with many other institutions in the neighborhoods we serve," said Becton.
John Harrington, executive director and trustee of the Yawkey Foundation, stated, "WGBH is a community treasure, and we are delighted to grant this award, which will expand its offerings to the commu-nity and to millions of viewers throughout New England."
The $7 million Yawkey commitment will assist WGBH's efforts to move its television, radio and educational facilities into the digital age. Construction on the existing 185,000-square-foot office building and adjacent 145,000-square-foot studio is expected to be completed in late 2006.
About the Yawkey Foundations
The Yawkey Foundations were established more than 20 years ago to further serve the family's many chari-table goals. Since the deaths of Tom and Jean Yawkey, the Foundations' Boards of Trustees have continued the Yawkeys' generous legacy contributing to organizations large and small that share the Foundations' charitable objectives.
WGBH informs, inspires, and entertains millions of people throughout New England — at home, at work, in the classroom, in movie theaters, and more. WGBH's television channels are WGBH 2, WGBH 44, WGBH World, WGBH Create, 'GBH Kids, WGBH On Demand, WGBH High-Definition, and Boston Kids & Family TV. WGBH also holds the license for WGBY 57 in Springfield, MA. WGBH's radio services are WGBH 89.7 (on Nantucket, heard on WNCK 89.5) and the Cape and Islands NPR' stations WCAI 90.1 and WNAN 91.1. WGBH's Web site is www.wgbh.org. All rely on the generosity of public support. Viewers, listeners, and Web visitors rely on WGBH for vibrant productions that reflect the needs and interests of local communities, alongside the WGBH-produced program favorites broadcast by public stations across the US.