Chicago (February 15, 2023) -- The Lincoln Presidential Foundation (“Foundation”) received an Inclusive Storytelling grant from the National Park Foundation (NPF). This grant will support designing first-ever exhibits for the Julius Rosenwald Boyhood Home, located within the Lincoln Home National Historic Site.
Rosenwald, the son of German-Jewish immigrants, was born a block from the Lincoln Home in Springfield, Illinois in 1862. His family moved to a house across from the Lincoln Home in 1868 and lived there until 1886. In 2019, the house became the first building named for a Jewish- American in a National Park Service (NPS) unit. Rosenwald is perhaps best known for his leadership of Sears, Roebuck and Company and for his role in the creation of thousands of “Rosenwald Schools” built throughout the segregated south to provide education to African American youth. While his efforts to improve the well-being of mankind through philanthropy and access to education have had a transformational effect on notable individuals and the nation, few people outside of his faith community or hometowns know his story.
“We are grateful that the National Park Foundation is supporting our efforts to share this uniquely American story with the public. The intersections of Rosenwald’s life and that of Abraham Lincoln offer a rich opportunity to explore shared ideals around philanthropy, education and equal opportunity,” said Erin Carlson Mast, the Foundation’s President & CEO.
Lincoln Home National Historic Site Superintendent Tim Good said, “By including stories at Lincoln Home beyond Lincoln, we demonstrate to the hundreds of thousands of visitors every year that each generation needs to meet new challenges facing their communities and the nation.”
The proposed project will result in the first long-term exhibit about a Jewish-American in a NPS unit. The Foundation will seek to raise additional funds for fabrication and installation of the exhibits.
The Jewish Federation of Springfield and Jewish United Fund in Chicago offered letters of support for the proposed project. “The Chicago Jewish community has long recognized the impact and example of Julius Rosenwald, in part because of his ability to build bridges across divided and marginalized communities. With the alarming rise in antisemitism, it is both timely and urgent to share the story of Rosenwald more broadly and to demonstrate within the National Park Service system that the Jewish-American experience is an important part of our national heritage,” said Lonnie Nasatir, President, Jewish United Fund.
“Rosenwald's formative years, growing up Jewish-American in Lincoln's hometown are central to his story.
The fact that his boyhood home is situated at Lincoln Home National Historic Site offers a unique opportunity to welcome new audiences to the site and reach audiences who may not otherwise encounter his story,” said Nancy Sage, Executive Director, Jewish Federation of Springfield, Illinois.
The grant will also fund the creation of new media content on Julius Rosenwald’s life and humanitarian impact, which will be developed by Looking for Lincoln – the coordinating entity for the 43-county Abraham Lincoln National Heritage Area partnering with organizations and individuals dedicated to enhancing the communities and landscapes of central Illinois through recognition and support of their significant natural, cultural and historical legacies.
“This is exactly the type of collaborative project that helps national parks share important stories and supports efforts to continually build bridges across communities,” said Sarah Watson, Executive Director, Looking for Lincoln and Abraham Lincoln National Heritage Area.
“For more than a century, national parks have commemorated people, places, and events, which have given shape to the unfolding American story we all share,” said Will Shafroth, president and CEO of the National Park Foundation. “Through the Inclusive Storytelling grants, the Foundation and National Park Service hope to ensure all visitors see themselves in our national parks and feel a sense of belonging when they experience their wonder.
The NPF Inclusive Storytelling program is a new philanthropic investment to support the National Park Service in updating interpretive programs, websites, and visitor centers as well as develop new interactive offerings, including exhibits, podcasts, and education programs at parks across the country.
ABOUT THE LINCOLN PRESIDENTIAL FOUNDATION
Established in 2000, the Lincoln Presidential Foundation is a 501c3 nonprofit public charity headquartered in Illinois. The Foundation’s purpose is to support, sustain, and provide educational and public programming, research, and access to historic places and collections, related to the life and legacy of Abraham Lincoln, in cooperation with other entities. Its vision is the global protection and expansion of freedom and democracy inspired by the life and work of President Abraham Lincoln. Learn more at lincolnpresidential.org
ABOUT THE NATIONAL PARK FOUNDATION
The National Park Foundation works to protect wildlife and park lands, preserve history and culture, educate and engage youth, and connect people everywhere to the wonder of parks. We do it in collaboration with the National Park Service, the park partner community, and with the generous support of donors, without whom our work would not be possible. Learn more at www.nationalparks.org.
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