WNET, the public media provider in New York City and parent of local public television stations Thirteen and WLIW21, has announced a gift of approximately $20 million from the estate of Sylvia and Simon B. Poyta.
The largest bequest in WNET history will establish the Sylvia and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, income from which will be used to underwrite a variety of projects, including on-air, online, and community-focused efforts to combat anti-Semitism.
Dr. Simon Poyta, a dentist, and Sylvia Poyta, a comptroller, lived in Forest Hills and were long-time supporters of a variety of New York institutions. In conversations with officials at WNET, Dr. Poyta expressed his belief that the network’s broad reach, history of quality programming, and online and on-air resources combined to make it an effective platform for advocacy around the issues of understanding and tolerance.
"We are extraordinarily grateful to the Poytas for this generous gift," said WNET president and 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."