A Record for Catholic-school Scholarships

In September 2015, the Inner-city Scholarship Fund run by the Archdiocese of New York announced the largest-ever U.S. gift to Catholic schooling. Christine and Stephen Schwarzman gave a record $40 million to an endowment created to provide 2,900 New York City children per year with scholarships. The Schwarzmans first started contributing money to Catholic schools in 2001.

“We’ve met so many impressive young women and men who have benefited greatly from the values provided by a Catholic-school education,” stated Christine, who also serves as a trustee of the Inner-city Scholarship Fund. 

That fund combines contributions from New York business leaders and church donors, and provided tuition assistance to nearly 7,000 Catholic-school students in 2015, prior to the Schwarzman gift. The church agreed to match the Schwarzman gift, and to raise an additional $45 million from other donors to increase the fund’s scholarship endowment by $125 million in total. Today, the fund annually awards $12 million in scholarships for more than 11,000 students.

Charitable efforts such as the Inner-city Scholarship Fund are especially important now, as Catholic schools shutter because of the coronavirus pandemic. About 80 percent of a Catholic school’s budget normally comes from tuition, according to Mary Pat Donoghue at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. So scholarships for tuition not only help low-income and underprivileged children stay in school; they also help Catholic schools keep their doors open. 

See “2015—A Record for Catholic-school Scholarships” in the list of Major Achievements in Religion of The Almanac of American Philanthropy for this and other donor accomplishments.

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