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Roosevelt Presidential Library Foundation Unlocks State Endowment
North Dakota Ag Connection - 10/29/2020

The Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library Foundation announced $100 million in commitments, successfully unlocking the $50 million endowment from the state of North Dakota. The news came during a virtual celebration of Theodore Roosevelt's birthday.

"$150 million dollars is at work to build the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library," said Linda Pancratz, chair of the Development Committee. "This is a strong start and an astonishing accomplishment, due in large part to the generosity of deeply committed North Dakota families rooted in this great state."

"Medora, North Dakota, is officially the future home of the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library," added Cathilea Robinett, chair of the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library Foundation.

242 gifts or commitments have been made to the T.R. Library since January 1, 2018, with the most common contribution of $25. The smallest donation was $0.26 in honor of the 26th president, and nearly every single donor has roots in North Dakota.

Helen Hilz, a resident of Beulah, N.D., made her gift because Theodore Roosevelt signed her grandfather's homestead papers on October 10, 1904. Helen's grandfather, John Miller, immigrated to the United States as a German from Russia and paid $2.50 an acre to homestead near modern-day Hazen, N.D. Helen's gift to the T.R. Library was in honor of her grandfather and in appreciation of Theodore Roosevelt's connection to her family.

The 2019 North Dakota legislature approved a $50 million endowment contingent on the Foundation's ability to raise $100 million in private funds. The Foundation will certify $100 million in commitments in a letter to Governor Doug Burgum with an appendix detailing those commitments. The Foundation will fulfill its commitments outlined in the legislation, including the payment of $300,000 to Dickinson, North Dakota, and $10 million dedicated to the establishment of the T.R. Scholars and digitization of T.R.'s archives.

This is an ambitious, visionary project that will benefit North Dakotans and Americans for generations to come," said Gov. Doug Burgum, who championed the project as an economic stimulus, tourism destination and educational asset for North Dakota. "We are deeply grateful to the Legislature for supporting this vision that began more than a decade ago, and to the North Dakotans and those with deep roots in our state who responded to the challenge by committing $100 million in private philanthropy to the project.

Melani Walton, a Foundation trustee and chair of the Design + Architecture Committee, and Theodore Roosevelt V, the great-great-grandson of Theodore Roosevelt, have been named as capital campaign co-chairs.

"Theodore Roosevelt shared the honest, hard-working values of North Dakotans," said Melani Walton, who was born in Williston, North Dakota, and is the third generation in her family to graduate from Dickinson State University. "The Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library will be the people's library. Its foundation has been built by the people of North Dakota, through the commitments we proudly announce today. Rob and I are honored to stand alongside others who embraced the vision for this library."

"North Dakotans have ensured a legacy not just for their state but also for our nation and the world," said Theodore Roosevelt V, a great-great-grandson and namesake of the 26th president. "I am pleased to join the North Dakotans supporting this campaign to honor the life and legacy of Theodore Roosevelt and fulfill the ambitious vision of the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library."

Theodore Roosevelt lived and ranched in North Dakota for the better part of two years after the tragic death of his wife and mother in 1884. Roosevelt returned to the Badlands and Medora almost every year until his death in 1919. Theodore Roosevelt National Park, the only of the 62 national parks named for a person, let alone a president, includes the Elkhorn Ranch, known as the 'cradle of conservation,' and will be a critical part of the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library plan.

In September, the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library Foundation unanimously voted to select Snøhetta for the design architect commission of the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library. Snøhetta will design only the 15th presidential library in the nation. The Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library will be located in Medora, N.D.

"The leadership, vision, and generosity of those who stepped up to keep us going are the reason the dream of a Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library is still alive," said Edward F. O'Keefe, chief executive officer of the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library Foundation. "Now we need you. The more we raise, the more we can do, and every gift will make an impact."

The Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library Foundation will release quarterly updates on the capital campaign alongside intermittent announcements of major gifts. Those interested in being "In the Arena" can donate now at trlibrary.com/donate.


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