As president of a moderately sized family foundation, I write some 200 checks a year. It gives me pleasure to do this. All our grantees are worthy. With 13 family members, however, our interests are widely dispersed and the checks are often in the $25,000 to $50,000 range with many $10,000 or less -- nice support but not life-changing. We are not afraid of startups. We have been the first giver to a promising new venture from time to time.
Now along comes a startup that sets my heart afire, that sizzles with the joy and hope I know it will give to thousands of children and their parents. It is a winner. I only hope to see it in action. (I am 85.)
It is KIDS POWERHOUSE DISCOVERY CENTER (of the Bronx Children's Museum) in the South Bronx. The Bronx, our poorest borough -- with 250,000 children under the age of 12 years, 90 percent of them Latino or black -- is the only borough without such a facility. I spent so many happy hours with my grandchildren in the Children's Museum in Manhattan. Children's museums are educational; they inspire and they bring families together. I want this for the children in the Bronx.
The bad news is that I can only write a modest check each year. I can't make it happen. The good news is Carla Precht.
Carla Precht (Ed Sullivan's granddaughter) has spearheaded this project for the past five years and she has not been without results. Of the $15 million needed, including the value of the building, she has raised more than $11 million.
Now KIDS POWERHOUSE DISCOVERY CENTER of the Bronx is embarking on a $3.5 million capital campaign that will make the dream come true. It will succeed. The sooner it succeeds the sooner will the children of the Bronx learn, explore and enjoy. In 2014, Mayor Bloomberg and I will attend the opening. Michael, I am not obese and I don't smoke.
When I watched big Ed introduce the Beatles, little did I think I ever would be connected to him in any way. Well, I am -- and in a very good way indeed.
It's museum week in New York. Let's go, children's museum of the Bronx!
(Click on the website: www.Bronxchildrensmuseum.org)
Richard Abrons is a playwright, author, vice chairman of the Henry Street Settlement, director of GROW NYC and president of the Louis and Anne Abrons Foundation. In his selfish life, he was an investment manager.