Light the Hoan fundraising reaches $500,000

Campaign enters quiet period

The Daniel Hoan Memorial Bridge in Milwaukee.
The Daniel Hoan Memorial Bridge in Milwaukee.

Last updated on July 2nd, 2019 at 09:14 pm

The Light the Hoan campaign to install LED lighting on Milwaukee’s iconic Daniel Hoan Memorial Bridge has so far received more than $500,000 in individual donations from the public. But it’s got a long way to go before reaching its goals.

Ian Abston, president of Millenian LLC, and Michael Hostad, executive director of The Commons, have led the $1.5 million public crowdfunding campaign, which launched in May 2018. Individuals who donate at least $25 can dedicate a light bulb on the bridge to a person or organization that has “made Milwaukee’s future brighter.”

The total project costs are expected to top $4.5 million. Light the Hoan leaders have been seeking larger philanthropist and corporate sponsors to fill the gap.

Hostad and Abston said they have structured Light the Hoan’s fundraising campaign in reverse of most charitable campaigns of its kind, with a public launch and then a quiet period.

“Typically in a campaign like this, the quiet phase happens first and the donors give 70 to 80% of the goal and then go public,” Hostad said.

The hope is that if they can demonstrate a groundswell of community support, they can convince those big-dollar donors to commit to the project, they said. While some corporate donors have committed, Light the Hoan remains mum on their identities.

“We’re not able to reveal any recent updates,” Hostad said. “There’s a lot of momentum happening right now.”

In 2015, the state completed a $278 million project to rebuild the Hoan Bridge. Originally the project was to include aesthetic lighting at a cost of $500,000 to $1 million. Those plans to light the bridge, at taxpayer expense, generated considerable controversy and were eventually quietly eliminated from the project.

When this separate fundraising effort was announced, Light the Hoan planned to hold a public lighting ceremony this summer.

“We’re hoping to have funds secured so that we can get the lights turned on in time for the (Democratic National Convention in July 2020), which would be the end of October,” Hostad said.

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