William T. Evjue
William T. Evjue talks to children in Madison in this file photo.

The Evjue Foundation, Inc. is the charitable arm of The Capital Times, a progressive voice for news, information and opinion for more than 98 years. William T. Evjue founded the paper in 1917 to ensure that those without the power of wealth and station would have a champion in the never-ending quest for clean and just government.

The foundation provides funds derived from the profits of The Capital Times to many educational, cultural, and charitable causes that add so much to the quality of life in Madison and Dane County. Since the foundation's creation in 1970, it has distributed more than $56 million to those causes.

The foundation exists because Mr. Evjue directed in his will that the success of the newspaper he founded be shared with the community that has supported and continues to support the newspaper that was his life.

Mr. Evjue was the son of a Norwegian immigrant who settled in northern Wisconsin and set out to make the most of what America in the late 1800s had to offer. As the oldest son of that Norwegian settler, Mr. Evjue decided as a young man to become a newspaperman. It was the profession, he felt, that could make a difference in advocating equality for the common person.

After working briefly at the Milwaukee Sentinel in Milwaukee and then as the business manager of the Wisconsin State Journal in Madison, Mr. Evjue decided that the surest way to advocate for his views was to start his own newspaper.

It was a risky decision. But early in 1917, he quit his job at the State Journal and on Dec. 13 of that same year, the first edition of The Capital Times rolled off a rickety press on King Street in downtown Madison. A new newspaper was born.

Mr. Evjue's paper has had a proud history. It has been at the forefront of Wisconsin's famed Progressive movement and has prided itself in fighting for the underdog, the very people who were without influence or wealth.

Mr. Evjue started The Evjue Foundation a few years before his death. During those years he contributed a few thousand dollars to the handful of causes that commanded his attention. When he died in 1970, the will he wrote directed that all the proceeds from the controlling voting stock that he owned in The Capital Times Co. be turned over to the foundation that he had formed a few years before.

That money, he directed, must go to organizations that best exemplify the beliefs that he championed during his lifetime, causes that could improve the quality of life for all the people in the Dane County area. That few thousand dollars of the early years has grown into millions today.

The foundation has been able to help everything from fledgling organizations that promote theater to large organizations that feed the hungry, from small community groups that work with troubled youngsters to large institutions such as the University of Wisconsin.

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