GREENSBORO, N.C. -- $1.5 Million is how much the city of Greensboro pledged last year to give the International Civil Rights Center and Museum. The money was contingent on the museum filing proper paperwork. And an audit found accounting problems. But that $1.5 million is only a small part of all the funds going to the museum.
The ICRCM didn't reveal a total of all the money given to them but 2 Wants To Know started digging to find out how much money the museum could have raised. Before we get to what's not disclosed – we want to be transparent with you. WFMY News 2 is a museum donor. We even hosted a Juneteenth telethon last year which raised tens of thousands of dollars.
A few hours of Googling shows we're not alone. Since the museum did not turn over totals, 2 Wants To Know looked at news articles and releases. We found documents saying the museum has received at least $44 million since starting in the 90s. That money comes from two different sources: tax credit investments and donations. The largest donation - a $4 million gift from Action Greensboro's partner organizations.
"Our anticipation was that it would be a high caliber museum that would draw not only people from North Carolina but people from all over the country. Maybe even the world," former Action Greensboro head Susan Schwartz said.
But that $4 million is small compared to the tax credit investments. Tax credit financing is basically the same as low-interest loans. Loans where the government pays the bank to lend the money. A news release says Stonehenge Capital invested $23 million. BB&T contributed $7 million. And U.S. Bancorp kicked in another $5 million.
Again between both types of funds, records show the museum had more than $44 million to work with. But remember, the museum came to the city council last year asking for financial help.
"It's disconcerting," Schwartz said.
But she still feels good about her group's investment.
"I'm just really hopeful we can get over this and that the museum can become something that we all dreamed it would be," she said.
There's also one more source of investment money. You the taxpayer kicked in a hefty amount. Within that $44 million records show the government contributed more than $12.5 million dollars. That's across the city, county, state and federal levels.