Stephen Schwarzman, School District Change Terms on His $25 Million Gift

Blackstone Group LP CEO Stephen Schwarzman has dropped his stipulation that his high school be renamed after him as a condition for his $25 million gift, the largest known gift to an individual public school.

The condition, which wasn’t disclosed when Mr. Schwarzman announced his gift in February, ran into objections from the community in Abington, Pa., after the school board disclosed it last month. Plans for the gift include paying for a major renovation at Abington Senior High School in Abington, Pa., where Mr. Schwarzman graduated in 1965, and adding a new science and technology center.

An initial pledge agreement, approved last month by the school board, outlined stipulations for the deal. One condition in particular, renaming the school Abington Schwarzman High School, evoked concern by some community members who said it was done without public input and called it “unnecessary and extreme” in an online petition to keep the old school name.

Mr. Schwarzman withdrew the naming proposal when objections were raised. The school board, citing the concerns, rescinded its vote on the initial agreement on Tuesday. A revised agreement will be considered on April 24.

“The naming was inconsequential, which is why he immediately withdrew the proposal,” said Christine Anderson, a Blackstone spokeswoman. “When asked to help his alma mater, Mr. Schwarzman agreed wholeheartedly. His intent was singularly to support the school’s desire to improve student preparedness.”

The revised agreement includes naming the planned center the Stephen A. Schwarzman Center for Science and Technology. Other changes include omitting a previous stipulation to name “additional spaces” for Mr. Schwarzman’s twin brothers and limiting Mr. Schwarzman’s participation in the planning, design and construction of the building to semiannual written reports provided by the district. The initial agreement gave him the right to participate in person or by phone.

Amy Sichel, Abington school superintendent, said she was grateful to Mr. Schwarzman for providing a gift that will help the district achieve its vision of a renovated and expanded high school. The improvements will allow ninth-graders to join grades 10 to 12 at the high school.

“I think it’s a wonderful gift that will benefit the children of Abington for years and years to come,” she said.

Some major foundations and associations have said they didn’t know of any previous donation to a single public school as large as Mr. Schwarzman’s, though wealthy individuals and foundations have made big contributions to entire school districts.

Mr. Schwarzman, a philanthropist and former chairman of President Donald Trump’s since-disbanded business-advisory council, has said that he hopes his donation would inspire other wealthy individuals to step up to address public-school funding gaps.

Write to Tawnell D. Hobbs at

Appeared in the April 13, 2018, print edition as ‘District Drops Plan to Name School After Blackstone CEO.’

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