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CHAMPAIGN — The University YMCA has raised almost $1.5 million through its “Transforming Lives, Connecting Communities” fund drive, exceeding its $1.2 million goal.

But the organization is extending the campaign to Jan. 31, hoping to fund the addition of solar panels on its 82-year-old building at 1001 S. Wright St., C, and expand interfaith programming in honor of former Executive Director Steve Shoemaker.

The drive has brought in more than $1.47 million in pledges since the September 2018 kickoff.

The money raised will go toward three major goals: tackling needed building renovations, strengthening programs and increasing the Y’s endowment.

The University Y has set up a GoFundMe campaign to raise the rest of the money needed to install solar panels on the building, at a cost of $22,000 after rebates and incentives. Two alumni have pledged up to $11,000 by matching all contributions over $100, but the Y still needs $7,000 more in pledges to reach its goal, Executive Director Mike Doyle said in a release.

Adding solar power will put the University Y one step closer to its goal of making the building LEED-certified, said board Chairwoman Cassie Carroll. The organization has been home to environmental activism in the community for more than 50 years, she said.

The University Y is also exploring a gift to honor the contributions of Shoemaker, director from 1999 to 2008. He played an important role in expanding the interfaith work there, including the monthly First Tuesday Interfaith Dialogues, Doyle said.

Founded in 1873, the University Y is the oldest nonprofit in Champaign County.#

Reporter/Columnist

Julie Wurth is a reporter covering the University of Illinois at The News-Gazette. Her email is jwurth@news-gazette.com, and you can follow her on Twitter (@jawurth).