Eugene M. Lang Gives $2 Million to NewYork-Presbyterian Mentoring Program
Philanthropist Eugene M. Lang, who in 1981 famously promised a classroom of sixth-graders from P.S. 121 in East Harlem a college scholarship upon high-school graduation, has recently made a pledge to another generation of New York students. Mr. Lang is giving $2 million to NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital to continue a medical education and mentoring program for middle- and high-school students.
Founded a decade ago, the Lang Youth Medical Program is a six-year college preparatory program that aims to inspire teens from Manhattan’s Washington Heights and Inwood neighborhoods to become physicians, nurses or pursue a career in the sciences. The program has reached around 100 minority students.
Mr. Lang, an entrepreneur who founded intellectual-property firm Refac Technology Development Corp., is among the country’s most generous philanthropists. He founded the nationwide I Have a Dream Foundation, based on the pledge he made to that Harlem classroom 32 years ago.
He also founded Project Pericles, an organization that encourages colleges to include social responsibility and good citizenship as a core of education. His Eugene M. Lang foundation supports a variety of New York institutions, including the American Museum of Natural History, New York Hospital Queens, the New School and Columbia Business School. Last year he made a $50 million gift to his alma mater, Swarthmore College, from which he graduated in 1938.
For his largess, Mr. Lang has received the Presidential Medal of Freedom and a number of honorary degrees. How many? “More than 40 degrees. Would you like some?” quips the 94-year-old.
At the core of Mr. Lang’s philanthropy is education and children. A native New Yorker, he attended public schools; his mother was a schoolteacher and his father a toolmaker. He began college at age 15 on a scholarship from Swarthmore.
He says of his education initiatives that there is nothing more fulfilling than “the happiness and satisfaction when you feel that you’ve enabled young people on the course of developing their lives and fulfilling their abilities.”
The Lang Youth commit to Saturday and summer classes at NewYork-Presbyterian. The hands-on courses are taught by Columbia University faculty and students and include clinical rotations and internships. Curriculum covers the human body, diseases and public health. The program, run by the hospital’s Ambulatory Care Network, includes college preparation and help with the college-application process. Graduates of the program have gone on to Barnard College, Northeastern University, Smith College and many of the City University of New York colleges.
Mr. Lang’s plan is to live to be 100 and to continue to work on projects for children. “I have a lot of things to do,” he explains, and his charity is not a hobby but a “very deep personal commitment.”
Still, giving away so much money “feels good,” says Mr. Lang. “I used to say it only hurts for a minute. But, actually, it doesn’t hurt anymore. It’s a wonderful feeling when you’ve been focused so strongly on the development and support of young people.”
Source: Education News