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Hollywood opening its wallet for Obama's presidential center in Chicago

Hollywood opening its wallet for Obama's presidential center in Chicago
Shonda Rhimes, who created “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Scandal,” is among the major donors to the Obama Presidential Center in Chicago. (Jordan Strauss / Associated Press)

Hollywood is opening its wallet for the Obama Foundation, which Tuesday reported 31 new donors who have contributed $1 million or more to the former president’s future center in Chicago.

Donors in the million-dollar-or-more circle include a foundation tied to Shonda Rhimes, who created TV hits such as “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Scandal.” A foundation affiliated with Philip Rosenthal, creator of television’s “Everybody Loves Raymond,” also has given at least $1 million.

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The Lucas Family Foundation started by “Star Wars” creator George Lucas gave an unspecified new gift, after the organization already had given the Obama Foundation at least $1 million as of last April. Lucas’ wife, Mellody Hobson, is president of Ariel Investments. It was founded by John Rogers Jr., who sits on the Obama Foundation board.

Other recent donors to give at least $1 million: the Chicago-based Exelon Corp.; the Goldman Sachs Philanthropy Fund; the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; and the Microsoft Corp.

Others to give at least $1 million include the Ford Foundation; the Steans Family Foundation; and the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation.

The latest list represents donors who made new cash contributions during the last three months of 2017 and made written commitments last year after Obama left office, the foundation said. The money will help pay for Barack Obama’s presidential center in Jackson Park, which is set to break ground this year and open in 2021.

Altogether, 56 donors whose new gifts pushed them into the range of $10,000 were identified. The foundation reports the value of donations in a broad dollar range.

The new release brings to 46 the number of individuals, couples or entities to kick in or pledge at least $1 million recently or in years past.

Other donors who gave again in the last quarter of 2017 had already given gifts of at least seven figures, including the Hutchins Family Foundation; Mel Heifetz, a real estate investor and philanthropist who supports gay rights; and the Kenneth C. Griffin Charitable Gift Fund. Griffin is the chief executive of the Chicago-based Citadel investment firm and has given millions in contributions to Illinois Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner.

In addition to Rogers, Obama Foundation board members Robert Wolf and Penny Pritzker were among donors who on their own or through a foundation have now given gifts of at least $1 million.

Wolf gave through the Robert and Carol Wolf Family Foundation. Rogers gave his gift with a daughter, Victoria. Pritzker, who was Commerce secretary under Obama, gave through the Pritzker Traubert Foundation.

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