The nonprofit group headed by Roger Ebert's wife will match up to $25,000 in donations toward a bronze sculpture honoring the late film critic.
The life-sized sculpture will be installed outside the Virginia Theatre in Champaign where the annual film festival called Ebertfest is held. Ebert grew up in neighboring Urbana and attended the University of Illinois. He died in April at age 70 following a long battle with cancer.
The statute will depict Ebert sitting in a theater seat making his iconic "thumbs up" gesture. The project's budget is about $122,500, according to a Sunday story by the Champaign News-Gazette.
"This matching grant enables donors that act now to have their contributions have even more impact because of the match that will be made by the Ebert Foundation," Scott Anderson, who heads the fundraising, told the newspaper.
Ebert's wife, Chaz Ebert, runs the Robert Ebert Foundation. The nonprofit group supports arts and education programs. If more money than what's needed for the sculpture and associated costs is raised, it will be given to the Roger Ebert Film Center at the university.
Along with his nationally syndicated Chicago Sun-Times column, Ebert became famous hosting a TV movie review show with fellow critic Gene Siskel of the Chicago Tribune.