Big Bucks for Inner City Youth: Behind This Wall Streeter's K-12 Scholarship Gift

Worth $11.6 billion as of this writing, Stephen Schwarzman, chairman and CEO of Blackstone Group, hasn't yet signed the Giving Pledge. But he and his wife Christine have ramped up their philanthropy in recent years, and they are precisely the kinds of mega-donors we keep a close eye on. For all that they've given so far, they've barely scratched the surface of what they canand probably willgive away.

The couple move their philanthropy through the Blackstone Charitable Foundation, which, among other things, is interested in entrepreneurship worldwide. But they've also been strong supporters of education. A few years ago, they gave $100 million toward the creation of Schwarzman Scholars, an international scholarship program modeled on the Rhodes Scholarship that he started at Tsinghua University in Beijing. Earlier this year, Schwarzman gave his alma mater Yale University $150 million to establish a state-of-the-art campus center.

Related:  Stephen Schwarzman Profile

While the couple's gifts on the higher education front stand out, they've also supported K-12 causes. Blackstone Charitable Foundation grantees include Year Up and Project Sunshine, which "provides free educational, recreational, and social programs to children facing medical challenges and their families." The couple also supported Archdiocese of New York's Inner-City Scholarship Fund, founded in 1971 by the late Terence Cardinal Cooke and a group of New York City business leaders whose goal was to "preserve Catholic school education as viable choice for all children." The fund currently provides financial assistance to 7,000 Catholic school students, most of whom are children of color. Schwarzman and Christine began their relationship with Inner-City Scholarship Fund back in 2001, when they met the late Archbishop of New York, Edward Cardinal Egan.

Now comes news that the couple has donated $40 million to Inner-City Scholarship Fund toward its “Kids Are Our Capital” endowment campaign. This $125 million endowment campaign will mitigate scholarship dependence on annual fundraising. Funds from the endowment will be awarded next fall and will provide around 2,900 new scholarships annually, a 43 percent increase from previous years.

Of the gift, Cardinal Dolan said that he believes "this is the single largest gift ever made to Catholic elementary and secondary education not only in our Archdiocese, but in the nation."

The Schwarzmans previously gave more than $8 million in tuition support for 350 students annually toward Inner-City Scholarship Fund, where, by the way, Christine is a trustee.