NEW YORK, April 16, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In the largest bequest in its 53-year history, WNET will receive approximately $20 million from the estate of Sylvia and Simon B. Poyta and has established The Sylvia and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism. The gift will be applied to the Campaign for THIRTEEN, launched at the time of THIRTEEN's 50th Anniversary.
"We are extraordinarily grateful to the Poytas for this generous gift," said WNET President & CEO Neal Shapiro. "Dr. and Mrs. Poyta were passionate philanthropists of the arts and long-time supporters of efforts to overcome the kind of hatred and intolerance Dr. Poyta witnessed while serving in the army during World War II. Anti-Semitism is rooted in a lack of tolerance, an issue that couldn't be more relevant today. The best antidote to anti-Semitism and intolerance is information and the kind of understanding that comes from bringing groups together to discuss common issues."
The funds will be placed in the WNET endowment fund and the proceeds will be used for future projects, including on-air, online and community-focused efforts against anti-Semitism and related issues. "These funds will serve as essential seed money for the development of new projects and new ideas," said Shapiro.
Dr. Simon B. Poyta (1917-2006), a dentist, and Sylvia Poyta (1922-2012), a comptroller, lived in Forest Hills, Queens. They were generous philanthropists, who supported many New York institutions.
In conversations with WNET before his death, Dr. Poyta expressed his belief that WNET's broad reach, long history of quality programming and its online and on-air resources combine to make the public media station an effective tool to advocate for tolerance and to help fight anti-Semitism.
This substantial gift will be part of WNET's ongoing Campaign to raise funds for programming and its endowment, bringing the total raised to more than $90 million toward a goal of $150 million.
As New York's flagship public media provider and the parent company of THIRTEEN and WLIW21 and operator of NJTV, WNET brings quality arts, education and public affairs programming to more than 5 million viewers each week. WNET produces and presents such acclaimed PBS series as Nature, Great Performances, American Masters, PBS NewsHour Weekend, Charlie Rose and a range of documentaries, children's programs, and local news and cultural offerings available on air and online. Pioneers in educational programming, WNET has created such groundbreaking series as Get the Math, Oh Noah! and Cyberchase and provides tools for educators that bring compelling content to life in the classroom and at home. WNET highlights the tri-state's unique culture and diverse communities through NYC-ARTS, Reel 13, NJTV News with Mary Alice Williams and MetroFocus, the multi-platform news magazine focusing on the New York region. WNET is also a leader in connecting with viewers on emerging platforms, including the THIRTEEN Explore App where users can stream PBS content for free.