Philanthropy and Black Education

A noble—and poorly understood—American tradition

When hedge-fund manager John Paulson donated $8.5 million last year to Success Academy, a public charter school network in New York City, he acted in a long tradition of America’s wealthiest citizens financing educational opportunities for the less fortunate. Today, this philanthropy brings to mind names like Bill Gates, Sam Walton, and Eli Broad. A century ago, it included Andrew Carnegie, John D. Rockefeller, J. Pierpont Morgan, George Eastman, and John Wanamaker.

How do they achieve results that the public system can’t?