Billionaire investor John Paulson and his family have pledged an $8.5 million donation to Success Academy Charter Schools to build public charter schools in areas of New York CIty where schools are struggling.
The donation by the Paulson Family Foundation will be used to bolster the opening of new middle schools in Brooklyn's Bedford-Stuyvesant and in Manhattan's Hell's Kitchen, according to a statement Thursday from Success Academy Charter Schools. The group operates 34 charter schools attended by 11,000 students at all grade levels, with 76 percent of students receiving subsidized lunch and 85 percent members of minority groups.
In New York City, "91 percent of all African American and Hispanic students attend a failing school where fewer than half of students are able to pass a proficiency exam," the statement said. Success Academy students have scored in the top 10 percent of all New York State schools on state proficiency exams since 2009, it said.
Students are accepted through a random lottery, and this year Success Academy received more than 22,000 applications for fewer than 2,300 available seats.
Paulson is founder and president of Paulson & Co. He gave a record $400 million donation this spring to his alma mater, Harvard University.