Nearly one year after Light the Hoan gave Milwaukeeans a sneak peek at what the Daniel Hoan Memorial Bridge could look like in lights, the group has announced a $1.2 million grant from the Greater Milwaukee Foundation on behalf of an anonymous donor.

The donation is the single largest individual gift received by the group so far, pushing the effort past a key fundraising milestone needed to get work underway. Phases 1 and 2 are moving forward, and will include project development, engineering of the lighting, and bridge lighting design.

Light the Hoan’s leaders continue to work toward the group’s final fundraising goal, and pending completion are confident Phase 3 can be executed in time to light the bridge for the 2020 Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee.

“Light the Hoan is beyond thrilled to have the support of local citizens and business leaders who share in our vision to create a brighter future for the City of Milwaukee,” says Michael Hostad, co-founder of Light the Hoan. “We are feeling energized — and confident — that we will reach our fundraising goal to help position Milwaukee in the best light when more than 50,000 people descend on Cream City for next year’s convention.”

In Spring 2018, a collective of business and civic leaders formed Light the Hoan as a committee of the Daniel Hoan Foundation to install state-of-the-art LED lighting along Milwaukee’s iconic yellow arches.

With this latest gift, the Light the Hoan project nears the halfway mark in its fundraising campaign. ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­In addition to the recent grant, Light the Hoan has also received significant donations from The Lacey Sadoff Foundation, the WE Energies Foundation, the Milwaukee Bucks, the Herzfeld Foundation, Miller Coors, Concurrency and others. Discussions regarding naming rights for the bridge lights are currently in progress.

Light the Hoan co-founder Ian Abston is gearing for more public support. He says artistic lighting installations in other cities — such as Little Rock, Arkansas, and San Francisco, for example, have resulted in increases in tourism, convention business, real estate development, and hospitality — and have contributed to growing civic pride.

“Milwaukee is getting national and global attention for the incredible things going on in this city, and we see a tremendous opportunity to follow the lead of other cities that have experienced the economic benefits of urban lighting projects,” Abston says. “What we envisioned three years ago is rapidly becoming a reality, and we couldn’t be more excited to build on this momentum with a project that truly reflects our generation and our community.”

The group’s members say they hope citizens see the Light the Hoan project as more than an effort to install bridge lighting. Since the group launched, its website has received more than 1,600 dedications from donors “shining a light” on colleagues, friends, organizations, and loved ones who have positively impacted individuals and quality of life within the city.

In addition to public and personal bulb donations, the project has resulted in a partnership between Islands of Brilliance, a local organization supporting skill development and career connections for children and young adults on the autism spectrum, and Signify, a global leader in lighting technology under the Philips brand.

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A. Michael Simms, Nick Mischo, and Visit Milwaukee