Yamilet Andrade shared her story and the letters she wrote to Stephen and Christine Schwarzman with about 400 people at the 40th annual Inner-City Scholarship Awards Dinner.
The junior at Cathedral High School in Manhattan stood on stage with other Inner-City Scholarship Fund recipients preparing to present the second annual James B. Lee Jr. LifeLink Award to Stephen Schwarzman at the Mandarin Oriental in Manhattan on Dec. 12.
“Along with my classmates beside me, I represent over 100 students who are provided scholarships from Mr. and Mrs. Schwarzman to attend Catholic school,” Yamilet said.
“For each of us, this would have not been possible without their generosity. We come from different backgrounds, attend different schools, live in different parts of the city, but are all connected because of you, Mr. Schwarzman.’’
Stephen Schwarzman was honored along with Judy and Russ Carson, Christie and Tony de Nicola and the firm of Welsh, Carson, Anderson & Stowe for their commitment to inner-city students and Catholic schools. The event raised nearly $2 million for the scholarship fund established in 1971 by Cardinal Terence Cooke and a group of prominent executives.
The fund assists 7,000 inner-city students—70 percent of whom live near or below the poverty level—with scholarships to attend Catholic schools. Ninety-eight percent of inner-city seniors at Catholic high schools graduate and 99 percent of graduates attend college.
“Tonight is special to me for so many reasons,” said Peter Grauer, president of the Inner-City Scholarship Fund. “Not only is it a milestone year, but we’re also here to mark a massive achievement and celebrate some incredible individuals whose generosity creates life-changing opportunities for young people all across this great city. I feel truly blessed to be standing in front of you this evening.”
In September 2015, the archdiocese began its $125-million “Kids Are Our Capital’’ endowment campaign, and the Schwarzmans donated $40 million to the campaign, the largest single donation in the archdiocese’s 207-year history.
Yamilet recalled the letters she wrote to the Schwarzmans, the first as a fifth-grader sharing a memory of her first day of kindergarten at St. Paul’s in Manhattan. At the time, she had just moved to New York from Mexico with her family and spoke no English. A few years later, she wrote another letter after struggling academically in her final semester of eighth grade, promising “to work harder and make the most of her education.” She’s earned first honors in each quarter of high school.
Yamilet noted how receiving money from the Inner-City Scholarship Fund to attend a Catholic school gave those who preceded her opportunities to attend college and enjoy successful careers.
“This is all because of your kindness and love of people, most of whom you never met,” she said.
Cardinal Dolan closed out the evening by sharing a story from a Mass he celebrated earlier in the day, marking the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. He discussed the feast and being approached by people with tears in their eyes to thank him for the scholarship, and by others asking if there was a scholarship opportunity for their son or daughter.
“Judy and Russ Carson, Christie and Tony de Nicola, and Christine and Stephen Schwarzman, you are the veritable Mount Rushmore of generous advocates for these kids,” Cardinal Dolan said. “This evening, you’re joined with this room full of exuberant benefactors of this extraordinary noble project.”