William J. Clinton Foundation
The William J. Clinton Foundation is a nonprofit corporation established in 1997. The Foundation is dedicated to preserving the legacy of President Bill Clinton, his record of presidential leadership, as well as several ongoing initiatives.
The mission of the Foundation in creating the Presidential Center is "to establish and support a Presidential archival depository, ... to house and preserve the books, correspondence, documents, papers, pictures, photographs, and other memorabilia of William J. Clinton, the President of the United States of America, as well as other objects or materials related to the papers or events of the official or personal life of William J. Clinton that have historical or commemorative value, and to undertake and support research and educational activities on policy and historical issues related to the life and work of William J. Clinton."
The Foundation began privately campaigning for the construction of the William J. Clinton Presidential Center on June 28, 1999, at La Grenouille French restaurant on Manhattan's East Side. There the president personally addressed almost forty fashion house leaders about his plans for the Library. According to federal law the President is not allowed to directly solicit funds for the project. The host of the dinner at La Grenouille was Arnold Simon, CEO of Aris Industries.
The pricetag for Clinton's presidential library - to be built at an estimated cost of up to $200 million - worried many prominent Democratic fundraisers. Large early pledges to the Clinton Foundation are said to have been offered by Hollywood producers Steven Spielberg and David Geffen, and supermarket executive Ronald W. Burkle. In its first public tax return in 1998 the Foundation disclosed donations of $3 million. The Foundation had collected $9.9 million in donations by 2001. In the end more than 112,000 people made donations to defray the $165 million in actual construction costs for the presidential center complex.
According to the Presidential Libraries Act of 1986 the regular operation of the Clinton Library must be supported by endowment funds. In 2004 the Clinton Foundation turned over a privately-raised endowment of $7.2 million. The Foundation continues to control about half of the square footage of the Clinton Presidential Center, including a cafeteria, meeting rooms, a private fourth floor Clinton Library apartment, and the Clinton Library gift shop.
Other projects of the Foundation involve "responding to challenges of the global neighborhood; responding to the challenge of September 11; promoting reconciliation and cooperation among the world's ethnic, racial, and religious groups; promoting economic empowerment through opportunity and responsibility; and supporting a new generation of leaders." In August 2001 the Foundation received a $250,000 grant from SBC Communications to reduce race-based inequalities in health care, education, economic prosperity, and crime.
The Foundation launched the nonpartisan Clinton Global Initiative in 2005. Participants agree to form "Commitments to Action," described as "practical, effective problem-solving measures that can be taken now." In January 2008 the Clinton Foundation announced the Clinton Global Initiative University for college students and administrators. The focus of the CGI University is currently "energy and climate change, global health, human rights and peace, and poverty alleviation."
Because his wife is a Senator from New York, Clinton spends the majority of his time doing Foundation work from his offices in Harlem. In addition to offices in Little Rock and Harlem, the Foundation occupies space in Boston, Massachusetts. Boston is home to the Foundation's HIV-AIDS initiatives.
- "Clinton Foundation Unveils a New Group," Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, January 24, 2008.
- "The Clinton Library," New York Times, June 29, 1999.
- Kevin Sack, "Clinton Lays Out Future for Library, and Himself," New York Times, August 3, 2001.
- Kevin Sack, "Clinton to Focus on Racism," New York Times, August 4, 2001.
- Don Van Natta, Jr., "Dinner for a Presidential Library, Contributions Welcome," New York Times, June 28, 1999.
- Don Van Natta, Jr., "Going Is Tough for Clinton Library Campaign, Backers Say," New York Times, April 29, 2002.