American Family Insurance contributes $2.5M to Center for Black Excellence and Culture capital campaign

MADISON, Wis. — Plans to create a cultural center for Madison’s Black community on the city’s south side are a bit closer to becoming a reality thanks to a donation from a major local employer.

American Family Insurance’s Dreams Foundation announced Thursday plans to invest $2.5 million in The Center for Black Excellence and Culture, which is scheduled to open in 2023. In early December 2021, Center CEO Dr. Alex Gee and other local leaders announced a $36 million capital campaign to fund the Center.

“American Family is proud to join Dr. Gee and many partners in the creation of The Center to honor, learn from and celebrate the Black community and its achievements, rich history and culture,” said Bill Westrate, American Family chief executive officer. “This is an important project for our community and our state, and we’re excited to be part of bringing it to life.”

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Once completed, the Center will be three stories and 65,000 square feet and feature areas that will focus on health and wellness, leadership, innovation, performing arts and more.

“With this inspiring gift, American Family Insurance is investing in a historic Black-led, Black-designed cultural and innovation strategy that will empower our community to thrive like never before,” said Dr. Gee. “Madison’s Black community understands the far-reaching benefits of space like The Center to affirm, inspire and advance our collective Black excellence. Corporate gifts like American Family Insurance’s communicate that the larger community recognizes the tremendous economic benefit that a Black cultural home means for the entire community and region.”

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In the past 30 days, the Center has raised an additional $5 million from private donations.