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A Strong Foundation for New Museum


Bill and Melinda gates hold babies at a health center during a visit to Mozambique in 2003. (Barb Kinney)

The guy with the biggest smile in town Thursday? Lonnie G. Bunch III, who announced a $10 million gift from Bill and Melinda Gates.

Well, not to Bunch personally. The Gates Foundation targeted the money for the National Museum of African American History and Culture after a personal appeal from him. "I talked about the role the museum can play in reconciliation and healing," said Bunch, the museum's founding director. His pitch worked, bringing in the largest donation to date -- although still a fraction of the $250 million that must be raised privately before Congress will match it, reports our colleague Jacqueline Trescott.

Which other donors will step up now that Gates has taken the lead? The museum's council has big names from business and entertainment: Oprah Winfrey, BET founder Bob Johnson, Citigroup chairman Dick Parsons, composer Quincy Jones and publisher Linda Johnson Rice. All have rolled up their sleeves, Bunch said. But what about opening their wallets? "We are now able to leverage this gift with other foundations and donors," said a very politic Bunch.

By The Reliable Source  |  October 16, 2009; 1:03 AM ET
 
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