ABINGTON, Pa.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Abington School District announced today that Stephen A. Schwarzman, Chairman, CEO and Co-founder of Blackstone, will donate a landmark gift of $25 million to Abington High School, Schwarzman’s alma mater. The donation will support the addition of a new science and technology center and allow for a full-scale renovation of the 1950s-era high school building, creating a state-of-the-art and innovative learning environment. As part of this donation, Abington will revamp their existing curriculum to ensure students are prepared for the nation’s fastest growing industries and motivate the next generation of global leaders for the challenges of the future.
The expanded and innovative curriculum will emphasize the skills needed to compete in the evolving workforce, helping prepare students for jobs of the future. Changes will include required classes in computer science and coding beginning in the seventh grade, with computers provided upon opening of the renovated building for use both in schools and at home. Additionally, the new curriculum will give students more flexibility to choose classes across a range of subjects and specialties, providing greater exposure to a variety of fields. Complementing these changes, Abington High School will also expand school counseling services so that children have the opportunity to explore their career interests earlier in life, with the goal of looking beyond just degree attainment.
The gift is part of Schwarzman’s effort to effect a paradigm shift in the way both schools and potential donors view private support for public education. Despite a critical need to modernize public schools around the country, donations are minimal, and many schools do not have the structures in place to accept or solicit private support.
“This year marks the 130th anniversary of Abington School District, and throughout our history we have dedicated ourselves to preparing more than 8,000 students per year for the future, including Mr. Schwarzman,” said Dr. Amy Sichel, Superintendent of Abington School District. “We appreciate his recognition of our student successes and are grateful that he is supporting Abington High School through this generous donation as we embark on an exciting new chapter for our students,1,000-plus District staff members and the entire School District community.”
“Ninety percent of America’s youth attend public schools, which means investing in public education yields one of the best returns imaginable — a new generation of creative, capable and collaborative future leaders who are prepared to succeed in the evolving workforce,” Schwarzman said. “I owe a debt of gratitude to Abington High School, and passionately believe that the next generations of students are entitled to an education that provides the tools needed to prepare them for future success. I call on others to join me and invest in public schools, in an effort to spark a much needed shift in how we support the more than 50 million students receiving a public education today.”
Schwarzman’s philanthropy has been defined by impactful gifts in support of education, and this donation is considered to be the largest ever given to an individual public school. In 2015, Schwarzman donated a gift of $40 million to the Inner-City Scholarship Fund, which provides tuition assistance to 8,000 largely minority New York City students to attend Catholic high schools. In 2013, he founded an international scholarship program, “Schwarzman Scholars,” at Tsinghua University in Beijing to help prepare the next generation of global leaders. The program is modeled on the Rhodes Scholarship, and at $550 million, is the single largest philanthropic effort in China’s history coming largely from international donors. Other major gifts have included $150 million to establish a new student center and performing arts hub at Yale University, $100 million to support the transformation and renovation of the New York Public Library's main branch and funding for the construction of a new stadium at Abington Senior High School.
The $25 million gift announcement will be made at the National Conference on Education of The School Superintendents Association (AASA), and help to kick off the organization’s new campaign, “I Love Public Education,” a yearlong initiative designed to highlight why public schools are essential to developing and educating future generations. Sichel, along with Raymond McGarry, President of the Abington Board of School Directors, will join Schwarzman at the National Conference on Education for the announcement.
With this curriculum shift and building expansion, grade levels will be redistributed across the District. Sixth grade students will move from the District’s seven elementary schools to Abington Junior High School — which will also be updated to become a middle school — and ninth graders currently in that building will move up to the High School.
For more information about Abington School District, including information on its upcoming High School expansion project, please visit www.abington.k12.pa.us.
About Abington School District
Established in 1888, Abington School District is a public school system located outside of Philadelphia in the suburbs of Montgomery County, Pa. With more than 8,100 students from Abington Township and Rockledge Borough, the District has seven elementary schools, one junior high school and one senior high school, which has been recognized four times as a silver medal “Best High School” by U.S. News & World Report. The School District has also been named a “District of Distinction” by the District Administration journal.
About Stephen A. Schwarzman
Stephen A. Schwarzman is Chairman, CEO and Co-Founder of Blackstone. Mr. Schwarzman has been involved in all phases of the firm’s development since its founding in 1985. The firm is a leading global asset manager with $434 billion Assets Under Management (as of December 31, 2017).
Mr. Schwarzman is an active philanthropist with a history of supporting education and schools. Whether in business or in philanthropy, he has always attempted to tackle big problems and find transformative solutions. In 2015, Mr. Schwarzman donated $150 million to Yale University to establish the Schwarzman Center, a first-of-its-kind campus center in Yale’s historic “Commons” building. In 2013, he founded an international scholarship program, “Schwarzman Scholars,” at Tsinghua University in Beijing to educate future leaders about China. At $550 million, the program is modeled on the Rhodes Scholarship and is the single largest philanthropic effort in China’s history coming largely from international donors. Mr. Schwarzman currently maintains his position as Co-Chair of the Board of Trustees of Schwarzman Scholars. In 2007, Mr. Schwarzman donated $100 million to the New York Public Library on whose board he serves.
Mr. Schwarzman is a member of The Council on Foreign Relations, The Business Council, The Business Roundtable, and The International Business Council of the World Economic Forum. He is co-chair of the Partnership for New York City and serves on the boards of The Asia Society and New York-Presbyterian Hospital, as well as on The Advisory Board of the School of Economics and Management at Tsinghua University, Beijing. He is a Trustee of The Frick Collection in New York City and Chairman Emeritus of the Board of Directors of The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. In 2007, Mr. Schwarzman was included in TIME’s “100 Most Influential People.” In 2016, he topped Forbes Magazine’s list of the most influential people in finance. The Republic of France has awarded Mr. Schwarzman both the Légion d'Honneur and the Ordre des Arts et des Letters at the Commandeur level. Mr. Schwarzman is one of the only Americans to receive both awards recognizing significant contributions to France.
He is also the Former Chairman of the President’s Strategic and Policy Forum, which was charged with providing direct input to the President of the United States from business leaders through a non-partisan, non-bureaucratic exchange of ideas.
Mr. Schwarzman holds a B.A. from Yale University and an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School. He has served as an adjunct professor at the Yale School of Management and on the Harvard Business School Board of Dean’s Advisors.
AASA, The School Superintendents Association, founded in 1865, is the professional organization for more than 13,000 educational leaders in the United States and throughout the world. AASA advocates for the highest quality public education for all students, and develops and supports school system leaders. For more information, visit www.aasa.org.