Armed with fliers, banners, and the latest technology to raise grassroots money from a mobile phone, the Friends of the Robert Crown Center (FRCC) and allied groups supporting the construction of the new Robert Crown Library, Turf Park and Community Center announced the kickoff of a grassroots campaign to sell personalized bricks that began with the July 4th parade.

“The July 4th parade is Evanston’s biggest event of the year, and we think people will jump at the chance to buy a brick, put a personalized message on it, and own a piece of Evanston’s new Crown jewel,” said FRCC Board member Raj Ghate.

The bricks will cost a donation of $500 and will allow for three lines of text with a maximum length of 18 characters per line. People can donate the cost of a brick simply by texting the word “Brick” to 52182 from their mobile phone. That text will take people to a secure site to make their credit card donation, and a follow up email gives people time to consider how to best personalize their brick.

Volunteers from Evanston Youth Hockey Association, the Evanston Public Library and other groups distributed 7,000 fliers at the parade, and the Zamboni ice resurfacing machine from the existing Robert Crown Center was draped with banners that read “Own a piece of Evanston’s New Crown Jewel. Buy a Personalized Robert Crown Brick Today $500. Text Brick to 52182.”

“We are so excited about building our new, state-of-the-art Robert Crown Library right there where more than 100,000 people visit each year so we can better serve every child and every person who wants library services close to their home and close to where their kids learn and play,” said Karen Danczak Lyons, Executive Director of the Evanston Public Library.

Dr. Ghate said the FRCC has already raised over $8.1 million of the $10 million initial goal to get the project to bid on construction documents, adding “If we could sell 1,000 bricks over the next few months, that could put us over the top, because every one of those donations will be matched by our very large anonymous donor.”

The New Robert Crown Library, Turf Park, and Community Center is slated to be built on the same site at 1701 Main Street at the corner of Dodge, and will feature a 6,000-square-foot library, expanded day care and community art space, two full sheets of ice, a new gym double the size of the current facility and new turf fields. Evanston is one of the few communities in Chicagoland that has no publicly available turf fields.