Nonprofit president apologizes for using ‘LeVar Burton Library’

The Michigan Attorney General’s Office also launched an investigation into the matter.

KALAMAZOO, Mich. — The Broncos Kitchen Foundation has issued an apology after asking for donations to establish the “LeVar Burton Library” without permission from LeVar Burton. The foundation also said the name of the library will be changed moving forward.

Burton publicly called out the LeVar Burton Library on Twitter Tuesday after the account asked for donations to be sent toward the Broncos Kitchen Foundation, a nonprofit based in Kalamazoo, to build a library in Burton’s name.

“This is not me nor is this effort affiliated with me in any way,” Burton said in a Tweet responding to the fundraiser page. He went on to say “It is clearly a scam” and ask for help in reporting the fundraising effort.

The nonprofit is run by Rev. William Stein, who refused to issue a public comment Tuesday and said Burton was aware that the library would be in his name. The library’s Twitter account responded to Burton on Twitter, saying that the accusations were untrue and that they had the approval to use his name.

RELATED: LeVar Burton questions West Michigan fundraiser in his name

On Wednesday, Stein issued a statement and apology after Burton’s legal team at the Pierce Law Group LLP sent a cease and desist letter. In the statement, Stein confirms that Burton had not formally acknowledged or approved the use of his name in the library:

We offer our sincere apologies to Mr. LeVar Burton for moving our project forward without a signed contract acknowledging his formal consent. This was a grievous error that has now been rectified.

As a Christian minister, I am reminded that we all make mistakes. According to Matthew 18:15, Jesus Christ said, “Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother.” Mr. Burton has accomplished this goal.

Although numerous attempts were made to communicate directly with Mr. Burton to secure his consent, we confirm that a formal acknowledgment of our project was not authorized. We regret the error.

In conclusion, thank you, Mr. Burton, for forgiving us for establishing the former LeVar Burton Library without your direct approval. You are a distinguished actor, director, literacy activist, and all-around humanitarian. Your life’s work is a testament to your personal commitment to improving the lives of citizens throughout the world. We only attempted to magnify your accomplishments. Society seldom names buildings after those who accomplish great feats. We are confident that your name shall appear on a newly constructed library in the United States.

We wish you continued success in all of your righteous endeavors. The Broncos Kitchen Foundation shall move forward with our goal to establish a library as a component of a proposed Black history museum in Kalamazoo, Michigan. A name will not be assigned to the project until written consent has been acquired by the honoree.

Stein said the name will be changed to remove all references to Burton, and the logo will be retired.

The Michigan Attorney General’s Office also launched an investigation into the matter.

A spokesperson for LARA told 13 ON YOUR SIDE that Stein filed documents for Broncos Kitchen Foundation to become a corporation in June of 2021 and filed for a Certificate of Assumed Name for the LeVar Burton Library on Tuesday.

A Certificate of Dissolution of Assumed Name was filed with LARA on Wednesday.

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