Top level financier and Blackstone CEO Stephen Schwarzman knows how to invest. Today he is personally worth over six billion dollars, and has built one of the leading assets management firms in the United States. He also understands that investing in education and knowledge is an important aspect of human progress, and has shown that belief through his charitable donations and community involvement. In the past he has given large gifts to his home city of New York, but he is now expanding into China, knowing that growth in that country means a tighter relationship with the American economy.
Schwarzman is a board member of the New York Public Library, and he made headlines in 2008 when he committed $100 million to help fund the library’s massive expansion project. It was the largest gift to a cultural institution the city has ever recorded. Schwarzman said that the library was helpful to lower and middle class citizens to reach toward the American Dream. The main building has been renamed the Stephen A. Schwarzman building and holds traditional book collections as well as historically and culturally relevant documents.
This April, Schwarzman announced the founding of a new, $300 million scholarship fund for Chinese students. The program, called Schwarzman Scholars, will invite 200 students each year from the United States (45%), China (20%) and other countries (35%) to attend Tsinghua University in Beijing for one year. The coursework will have four paths of study: public policy, economics, international relations and engineering. The first set of Schwarzman Scholars will graduate with a master’s degree in 2016. Schwarzman says his foundation is trying to create a future group of leaders from around the world and was inspired by the Rhodes scholarship program founded in 1902.
Stephen Swarzman personally gave $100 million to the scholarship fund and is actively raising another $200 million from partners to fully endow it. He has attracted a top tier advisory board, including Tony Blair, Condoleeza Rice and Colin Powell. The Blackstone CEO has lost much of his company’s value in the economic downturn, but remains committed to investing in educational and cultural efforts. Schwarzman is also on the board of trustees for the New York City Ballet and the Film Society of Lincoln Center, among other cultural institutions. He lives in New York and is married to Christine Mularchuk Hearst.