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For the Record
Endowment Donations Aid Institute's Mission

Tim Kelly
Fellow of the Institute
Chair, Grants & Fellowships Committee

Edward F. Kook, an early and strong supporter of USITT, established a fund in 1978 devoted to encouraging research and development projects specific to the entertainment industry.

Over the ensuing years, through careful stewardship, expanded fundraising, and the extraordinary generosity of USITT members, the Edward F. Kook Endowment and other Institute programs have grown and flourished. By 1985, the Kook Endowment had grown to a point where his vision for the future could provide meaningful funding for research projects.

In creating a grants and fellowships program, the Institute undertook a course of action few other professional organizations had the foresight to embark on. When members were provided an opportunity to submit proposals for innovative projects to the newly established Grants & Fellowships Committee, the Institute's best researchers, most creative problem solvers, out-of-the-box thinkers, and dedicated historians were given funds to assist them in their work. 2005 is the 20th year of this effort, and over those years, 32 Project Grants and eight Fellowships have been awarded - a total of $197,550.

Funded ideas are as diverse as pumping liquid down a fire hose to move scenery, a "Marshall Plan" to help the fracturing Socialist countries maintain theatre programs, the startup of CITT's CallBoard, Virtual Reality Interface, and LED light fixtures. These and a host of others have added greatly to the industry's ability to create magic.

As research and development funds become scarcer and Fellowships are harder to find, it is critical for USITT to uphold the primary dictate of its Mission Statement: "To actively promote the advancement of the knowledge and skills of its members."

Looking forward to USITT's 50th birthday in 2010, the Institute is in the first year of a five-year fundraising campaign to assist in sustaining its major missions. All members are encouraged to consider an extra-special gift in support of the Edward F. Kook Endowment Fund by submitting a letter of intent to make an annual donation for the next five years. A Five Year Intention form containing additional information can be downloaded here (pdf) or from the USITT website.

Institute has budgeted for a 50 percent match for each five-year commitment. This means, for instance, a $100 a year pledge will mean an annual $150 added to the principal of the Kook Endowment Fund.

This special effort will reap great benefit in building the current Kook Fund of $162,000 well beyond the $300,000 level; the return on this principal provides funding for grants and fellowships.

Over the years, the $5 donations sent in by students, the $100 contributions from individual members, and the multi-thousand dollar gifts from established professionals and companies have built the principal of the Kook Fund to allow USITT to continue to set the standard for excellence in the entertainment industry.

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