SWEET CHARITY: Charity is very much in vogue this week now that Pope Francis has touched ground in the U.S. When His Holiness arrives in New York Thursday he is expected to bring with him a message of giving, and Christine and Stephen A. Schwarzman have already made it known they are right there with him. The power couple have donated a record-setting founding gift of $40 million to the Archdiocese of New York Inner-City Scholarship Fund’s new $125 million endowment campaign.

At Monday’s launch for the “Kids Are Our Capital” initiative, the Schwarzmans were front-and-center with Cardinal Timothy Dolan and Bloomberg chairman Peter Grauer, president of the Inner-City Scholarship Fund. The Schwarzmans’ donation is the single largest in the archdiocese’s 207-year history.

Geared for underprivileged students attending Catholic schools in the archdiocese, the Inner-City Scholarship Fund will provide tuition. By setting up an endowment, the initiative will be funded in perpetuity and the scholarships will no longer be dependent on annual fundraising. Starting next fall, approximately 2,900 scholarships will be awarded annually to existing students and new ones — a 43 percent increase over prior years.

The gift was revealed during a special visit to Cathedral High School by Dolan, the Schwarzmans and Grauer.

“I believe this is the single largest gift ever made to Catholic elementary and secondary education not only in our Archdiocese, but in the nation,” said Dolan. “That, when combined with the sacrifices our parents make to send their children to our schools and the dedication of our teachers and administrators is a tremendous gift to our city. I am so grateful.”

The Schwarzmans started supporting the fund in 2001 after meeting the late Archbishop of New York, Edward Cardinal Egan. They previously contributed more than $8 million in tuition support for 350 students annually. Christine Schwarzman said, “We’ve met so many impressive young women and men from various religious backgrounds. They have all benefited greatly from the values provided by a Catholic school education. Providing future generations that same opportunity is very important to us.”

She and her husband Stephen, the founder, chairman and chief executive officer of Blackstone, have a reputation for supporting education and The New York Public Library’s main building is named for him. This spring he donated $150 million to his alma mater, Yale University. He said, “Quality education is the single greatest gift we can provide to young people, and Catholic schools have been providing it to the children of New York for a long time with great results.”

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