Hundreds of Wall Streeters gathered at Cipriani in Midtown Manhattan on Monday night to raise funds for Success Academy Charter Schools and to celebrate the school’s 10th anniversary.
Harvard’s Dr. Roland Fryer, Jr. gave the keynote address and hedge fund billionaire John Paulson and his wife Jenny were honored.
Hedge fund managers at the gala included Boaz Weinstein of Saba Capital, John Petry of Sessa Capital, David Einhorn of Greenlight Capital, and Julian Robertson of Tiger Management. Media moguls Rupert Murdoch and Jesse Angelo were also in attendance.
The dinner was co-chaired by hedge fund manager Daniel Loeb, the founder of Third Point LLC and Success Academy board chair; former CNN anchor Campbell Brown; hedge fund manager Joel Greenblatt; hedge fund manager Bruce Kovner and his wife Suzie; and hedge fund manager John Scully and his wife Regina.
Success Academy, which is run by former NYC Councilwoman Eva Moskowitz, is the city’s largest charter school network. Success Academy teaches approximately 11,000 students in 34 schools in some of the city’s poorest neighbourhoods.
This year, more than 20,000 students applied for 3,228 spots. To meet the demand, Success is aiming to open one-hundred schools.
Charter schools are public schools that are privately run. To open new schools, they require financial support during the startup phase. That means $1.5 million for a new elementary school, about $2 million for a middle school, and around $3.6 million for a high school.
Daniel Loeb — known on Wall Street as a fierce activist investor — is one of a handful of fund managers that’s become heavily involved in education reform efforts, particularly by supporting charter schools.
Loeb’s wife Margaret introduced him to charter schools after taking him to a screening of “Waiting For ‘Superman'” — the award-winning documentary. Afterwards, Loeb toured a bunch of different charter schools. During that process, one of Loeb’s friends told him that “the woman who runs Success is a little aggressive.”
“I knew it was love at first sight. I’ve been involved with Success ever since.”
John Paulson of Paulson & Co. has also become involved. In 2015, he pledged $8.5 million to Success Academy to open new middle and high schools.
“I firmly believe the most important way to improve lifetime opportunities for lower income children is through education,” Paulson said at the gala. “Unfortunately, our most disadvantaged citizens are being left behind because they are not receiving adequate educations.”
The 4th annual spring benefit gala raised more than $10 million, an “unprecedented” milestone, Moskowitz said.
Moments later, she announced that Julian Robertson, through the Robertson Foundation, pledged $25 million, making the evening’s total north of $35 million.
“There is no better investment than the education of all our children… and there’s no more innovative educator than Eva Moskowitz,” Robertson said.
He added: “We invest in people capable of making great change and Eva has done that… Success Academy’s approach to public education has demonstrated that children from any zip code can achieve their full potential.”
Paulson, Loeb, and Robertson then joined in a group hug.