$35M for prep school – Cable mogul boosts alma mater

A cable television billionaire has added to recent high-profile education donations with a $35 million gift to the Pennsylvania prep school he attended, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. 

The gift to Mercersburg Academy by H.F. “Gerry” Lenfest and his wife, Marguerite, is the largest ever given to the private secondary school, and more than double the school’s current annual budget.

The money will be used for scholarships, teacher pay, dorm renovations and new buildings.

Lenfest, who graduated from Mercersburg in 1949, built the largest cable system in the Philadelphia area.

In January, his cable system was bought for $7.2 billion. 

This year’s record gifts to educational institutions include a $350 million gift to Massachusetts Institute of Technology from International Data Group founder Patrick McGovern Jr.; $150 million to Stanford University from Netscape Founder Jim Clark; and $100 million to the University of Mississippi from former Netscape CEO Jim Barkdale.

The donation is the fourth-largest among recent gifts to private high schools, according to the National Association of Independent Schools. 

In recent years, one school received $100 million, three received gifts of $50 to $60 million, and four received gifts of $20 million to $30 million.

Lenfest, whose net worth is $2.3 billion, has pledged with his wife to give away a total of $110 million to charities this year.



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