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Palm Beachers’ millions aid big causes, from health to education to art

Posted On: 11-01-2015

By Shannon Donnelly

Daily News Society Editor

An extremely generous Palm Beach philanthropist tossed off the best answer to the question of why he decided to give away so much of his money.

He shrugged and said, “I have it and they need it.”

So there, in seven little words, is the whole Palm Beach philanthropic subculture. Here, charity begins at home — because that’s where the checkbook is.

For Palm Beach winter residents Steve and Christine Schwarzman, that checkbook is $190 million lighter. (But, since has a nicely feathered nest high up in the Forbes 400 Richest Billionaires aerie, we’re guessing there’s still a few black-ink commas in his bottom line.) The bulk of that — $150 million – went in May to Schwarzman’s alma mater, Yale University, to create a new arts and cultural center.

“Yale,” said the founder of Blackstone Group, “gave me values, taught me service to the community; it taught me to write and think.”

The remaining $40 million went to the Inner City Scholarship Fund, which provides parochial school tuition for underprivileged children, to create an endowment. The gift, the largest in the history of the Archdiocese of New York, will be matched with archdiocesan funds.


In May, second-generation Palm Beach winter resident Henry Kravis and wife Marie-Josee, through the Marie-Josee and Henry R. Kravis Foundation, donated $100 million to The Rockefeller University in New York.

The gift will help fund a laboratory and research building to be constructed along FDR Drive on the East River. The Kravis Research Building will house state-of-the-art laboratory space for Rockefeller’s scientific and educational programs.

“Henry and I are thrilled to help advance the kind of paradigm-changing discoveries that Rockefeller is known for and that will improve human health,” Marie-Josee Kravis said.

It is the second $100 million gift from the couple in a calendar year. In May 2014, they gave the same amount to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, also in New York.


We’re guessing Palm Beach residents Martha and Dwight Schar found themselves without enough pockets to carry around the $70 million from the sale of their home to hedge funder Paul Tudor Jones.

So, they gave $50 million of it to Inova Cancer Center in Virginia, where they also have a home.

The gift, the largest ever received by Inova, will name its new $200 million cancer center the Inova Dwight and Martha Schar Cancer Institute. The money is earmarked for creating endowments to attract top-tier research talent, especially in the field of immunotherapy — using the body’s own immune system to destroy cancer — and gene-specific drug therapy.

Schar also said he saw the donation for the center, which will create more than 1,000 jobs, as the opportunity to repay the area for the fortune he made from his Reston-based home construction business.

“This region has been very good to us,” said Schar, who still gets nearly half of his business from the D.C.-Baltimore corridor. “I’ve been the beneficiary of a lot of good luck in Northern Virginia.”

Pediatric research

In July, nonagenarian Palm Beach-and-Philadelphia resident Raymond Perelman continued his longstanding support of health care with a $50 million gift to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

The donation, equal to the largest ever received by the hospital, will support pediatric research and establish the 8-acre Raymond G. Perelman Campus.

“Anyone who has spent any length of time in the city of Philadelphia … knows that CHOP (Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia) is the best in the world,” Perelman, 97, told the Philadelphia Inquirer. “I consider myself fortunate to be able to enhance one of our greatest resources.”

Other largegifts:

* In May, the Joseph and Florence Mandel Family Foundation gave $17 million to the Agnon School, Cleveland’s only Jewish community Jewish day school. The funds are earmarked for personnel, programs and capital improvement. In honor of the gift, the school will be renamed The Joseph and Florence Mandel Jewish Day School.

* Morton and Barbara Mandel, through the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Foundation and the Mandel Supporting Foundations, donated $10 million in March to create a new humanities center at Cuyahoga Community College in Cleveland. The gift is the largest ever received by the school and also will provide a renovation of the Liberal Arts and Performing Arts building on the Eastern Campus in Highland Hills, an endowment for the center and its initiatives, a chair for a dean of humanities to lead the center, and a Scholars Academy to provide scholarships and educational activities for at least 200 high-performing students each year.

* Sloan’s Curve residents Ike and Laurie Perlmutter in February donated $9 million to be divided between the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology and NYU Langone Medical Center. A $3 million portion will finance joint research between the institutions; the remainder is earmarked for the creation of an on-campus research facility at Technion.

* In May, Bill and Sally Ross Soter gave $5 million to the American Heart Association as the inaugural gift to the organization’s Go Red For Women Research network. The monies will fund the Sarah Ross Soter Center for Women’s Cardiovascular Research and its work specifically related to women and heart disease. Sally Soter is a longtime advocate for women’s health.

* Robert and Christine Stiller’s $5 million donation to the Norton Museum of Art, given in January, is the lead gift in the museum’s capital campaign. The museum expansion will include a 200-seat auditorium in the west wing to be named for the Stiller Family Foundation. Construction will begin next year.

* A $5 million gift to Villanova University from residents John and Jana Scarpa will name a center for law and entrepreneurship at Villanova’s law school. “I want to see law schools and business schools work together to produce young men and women who pursue entrepreneurship, because that’s where the jobs of the future are,” Scarpa said when the gift was announced in March. “A center for law and business could be really helpful in taking the up-and-coming law students and giving them a better understanding of the business world.” The gift is part of Villanova’s $600 million comprehensive capital campaign.

* A $2 million gift from Judith P. and S. Lawrence Schlager to Brigham & Women’s Hospital in Boston will help fund the hospital’s Innovation Hub, a space designated for researchers, physicians and industry professionals to collaborate and strategize with the aim of speeding the pace of medical discovery. The donation, made in April to the hospital’s capital campaign through the Schlager Family Foundation, will rename the space the Schalger Family Innovation Hub. The gift will alos support the Schlager Family Breast Cancer Assistance Fund, a permanently endowed fund providing breast cancer patients with financial assistance for transportation, housing, medications, wigs and prostheses not covered by insurance.

* A $2 million cash gift from David and Jill Gilmour to Opportunity Inc.’s capital campaign will help the early childhood education center to double its service base. The donation, given in January from the couple’s Wayaka Charitable Trust, will fund construction of a new preschool learning center in the Westgate area that will be named in honor of the couple, and will expand the school’s capacity from 96 children to more than 220. The expansion also will enable the organization to serve more families with a food pantry, clothes closet, a computer resource center, meeting rooms for parenting classes, and an onsite clinical social worker and child development specialist. “Quality preschool education is critically important to society,” David Gilmour said. “A child’s mental and character development takes place from birth to age 5. After that, anything you try to do is just chasing rainbows.”

* A $1 million gift from Gladys Benenson to the Palm Beach opera will fund the Young Artists Program for the next four years. The donation, given in March, is from a foundation named for her late husband, Edward. Each season, the opera hosts up to eight young artists for residencies lasting five months. She is a member of the opera’s executive committee.



Source: Shannon Donnelly, November 1, 2015, Palm Beach Daily News

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