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Ameren Illinois Invests $50,000 in the Mannie Jackson Center for the Humanities

Article by: Laura Inlow, linlow@lc.edu
EDWARDSVILLE – Ameren Illinois has invested $50,000 in support of Lewis and Clark Community College’s latest initiative to restore the historic Lincoln School and establish the Mannie Jackson Center for the Humanities.

“At Ameren Illinois, we understand the importance of diversity and inclusion in all facets of life and how it is vital to the economic success of our region,” said Richard Mark, president of Ameren Illinois. “We are proud to support the Mannie Jackson Center for the Humanities to help bring the region together so we can learn to embrace our differences and build stronger communities.”

Lewis and Clark President Dale Chapman said support for the Mannie Jackson Endowment and the Center for the Humanities has been tremendous, and thanked Ameren Illinois for their leadership gift.

“We are so grateful Ameren Illinois and its leadership recognize the importance of this project and stepped forward to help,” Chapman said. “Their gift will allow us to receive nearly $17,000 in matching funds from National Endowment for the Humanities. This gift is meaningful for the college, this project and the study of the humanities on a global scale.”

In 2011, the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) announced Lewis and Clark Community College as one of the first six two-year colleges ever to receive Challenge Grants.

These competitive grants aim to help raise endowments to strengthen humanities programs at community colleges, encourage the development of model humanities programs and curricula, and broaden the base of financial support for humanities on two-year college campuses.

The $250,000 grant requires Lewis and Clark to raise a 2-to-1 match of $500,000. Not only has Jackson pledged his own financial support toward building the endowment, but he is also working closely with Lewis and Clark to provide his vision and leadership toward fulfilling the endowment and completing the building project.

To date, nearly $2 million has been raised for the Mannie Jackson Center for the Humanities. A groundbreaking was held at the Lincoln School on north Main Street and the building is expected to open in fall 2015.

An entrepreneur and influential African American leader, Jackson announced the creation of the Mannie Jackson Endowment and Center for the Humanities and his own $200,000 pledge toward the endowment during a 2012 book signing event for his memoir, “Boxcar to Boardrooms,” held on Lewis and Clark's N.O. Nelson campus in Edwardsville, Illinois.

The center will bring together diverse audiences and humanities programming through lectures, readings, dialogues, public service opportunities and humanities programs. The historic Lincoln School will be the center’s headquarters.

“The sense of place is powerful,” Chapman said. “At the center, we want to engage diverse audiences with the lessons taught through the humanities to reduce the polarization found in our increasingly pluralistic society.”

Jackson was born in a railroad boxcar in Illmo, Missouri, before moving to Edwardsville and finding statewide high school success on the basketball court. He was recruited to play college basketball at the University of Illinois, where he became the first of the school’s African-American student athletes. He then went on to a playing career for the Harlem Globetrotters before rising through the ranks at Honeywell to become one of the company’s senior corporate officers and one of the most influential African-American corporate executives in the country. Jackson later bought the Harlem Globetrotters and became the nation's first African-American owner of a global sports and entertainment brand.

“I have faced many societal challenges during my life. The formation of the endowment and center will result in programs that give people a better understanding of societal differences and how we should embrace those differences. Without that understanding, people throughout the world will continue to have conflicts with other cultures,” Jackson said. “I am so thankful that Ameren shares this understanding and has made this investment in the community.”

For more information about the Mannie Jackson Center, visit www.lc.edu/manniejackson.