The Friends of the Robert Crown Center have secured a $500,000 capital commitment from Beacon Academy, an Evanston-based Montessori high school, in support of the new Robert Crown Community Center, Ice Complex, Turf Fields, and Library. The gift will be spread over seven years, and will be recognized with prominent signage inside the new facility’s gymnasium.

In addition to their capital pledge, Beacon has also committed to renting significant portions of athletic and community space time slots over the building’s first five years, with the intention to then renew for a second five years. The school will also use the new facility and park for students to participate in community engagement activities and public service projects.     

“Beacon Academy is proud to be a part of Evanston and proud to fully participate in Evanston community life,” said Head of School Jeff Bell. “This is a visionary project that will benefit all Evanstonians for generations, and we are excited to stand with the City and Library to support area families and strengthen our community.”

As a stipulation of their gift and rental agreements, Beacon’s leadership team required assurances that no other community groups or organizations which currently use the Crown Center would see their access or usage hours decreased in the new building as a result of Beacon’s usage, said the Friends of Robert Crown in a prepared statement.

According to Lawrence Hemingway, Director of the City’s Department of Parks, Recreation, and Public Services, the new facility’s increased capacity and improved features will enable the City to meet this requirement, adding Beacon Academy to the programming schedule while still fully accommodating all other user groups.

Friends of Robert Crown Center Board Treasurer Dr. Raju Ghate said, “We are so incredibly grateful for Beacon’s generosity. It’s landmark gifts like this that have helped propel the new Crown from a dream to a reality. This kind of giving inspires other donors at all levels. Families see these respected pillar organizations all coming together in support of a single cause, and they realize that this thing is really going to happen. We’re going to do this. All of us together, as one community.”

The Friends of Robert Crown have now raised more than $10.3 million, with an aim toward a new stretch goal of $15 million.

The Friends of the Robert Crown Center is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit charitable organization founded in 2016 to spearhead community fundraising efforts for the construction of a new Robert Crown Community Center, working in partnership with the City of Evanston, the Evanston Public Library, and many local athletic and community groups.

Beacon Academy is an independent school serving grades 9-12 with a curriculum based in Montessori principles and culminating in the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme. The school occupies 22,000 square feet in the Rotary Building in downtown Evanston.