Largest Gift to a New York Public High School Supports Tomorrow’s Scientists
The Bronx High School of Science broke ground last month on an important new campus building: a state-of-the-art facility that will be known as the Stanley Manne ’52 Science Institute. The ceremony was attended by an impressive collection of community leaders, including Mayor Bill de Blasio.
However, the event broke ground in more than just the literal sense. The $18 million gift making the project possible is the largest gift ever received by a New York public school—perhaps any public school in the country.
Alumni Donor Challenges Bronx Science Community
The generous donation comes from alumnus Stanley Manne, who graduated in 1952 before attending Columbia University, where he obtained his degree in chemical engineering. He later earned an MBA from the University of Chicago, and in 1985, purchased Brawny Plastics, manufacturer of a variety of industrial and consumer plastic products. Manne and his family support multiple charities via the Manne Family Foundation, and he is also responsible for establishing the Stanley Manne Children’s Research Institute at Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago.
Ten million of the $18 million gift is committed for a match, and Manne hopes it will encourage a further ten $1 million donations from members of the Bronx Science community. Alumni, parents, friends, corporations, and organizations are being challenged to commit $1 million over the next decade in the “Manne Match Challenge.”
Donors’ names will be inscribed in the Bronx Science lobby and in the new institute. Donors will also be invited to senior students’ research presentations, have other opportunities to hear from students directly, and attend an annual meeting with the principal and director of the Manne Institute to hear of the school’s accomplishments and future plans.
Institute Will Benefit Students and the Bronx Community
Dattner Architects noted on its website that the 10,000-square-foot institute was designed “after the pandemic changed the way we live and work.” The building will be a university-level facility housing three professional-grade multidisciplinary labs and several specialized rooms, including a tissue culture room, cold room, microscopy room, animal room, sterilization room, and many others. A modular design means that these spaces can be upgraded and reconfigured as future requirements demand. Currently, no other public high school in America has anything comparable. Bronx Science’s 3,000 students will be able to conduct scientific research using the latest technologies and engage with more complex research questions than ever before. The building is expected to be complete by fall 2022.
The Manne Institute will allow Bronx Science to offer more specialty courses dedicated to independent research, as well as intensive summer programs and mentorship opportunities. However, the institute’s benefits extend beyond the Bronx Science campus. More than 4,000 students at partner schools in the Bronx will be able to attend programs at the institute.
These 7,000 students are primarily students of color from low-income, often immigrant families who are set to become first-generation college students. Manne and his fellow donors will be helping to build greater social equity by providing much-needed resources to these talented and motivated students.
Bronx Science Has Produced Some of the Best
The Bronx School of Science was established in 1938 as a specialized, public boys’ school focused on math and science. The school is now coeducational and boasts an impressive group of alumni, including the following individuals:
Bruce Ames (’46) graduated from Cornell University in 1950 with a B.A. degree in chemistry and biology. He obtained a Ph.D. in biochemistry from the California Institute of Technology in 1953. He is best known for developing the Ames test for chemical mutagens. The test was faster and cheaper than its predecessors and has been widely used to test for carcinogenic risks in chemicals. It’s thanks to Ames that a popular flame retardant in children's clothing was banned before it could do more harm.
Wanda Austin ('71) became the first woman and the first African American president and CEO of The Aerospace Corporation. President Barack Obama selected her to serve on the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. She also serves as a director of the Space Foundation and as a trustee for the University of Southern California and the National Geographic Society. In 2018, Austin became the first woman and first African American to serve as interim president for the University of Southern California when C. L. Max Nikias resigned.
Neil deGrasse Tyson (’76) is also a Bronx Science graduate. Arguably America’s most famous astrophysicist and science communicator, Tyson is head of the Hayden Planetarium at the Museum of Natural History in New York. He contributes to NASA’s strategic vision through his participation on the organization’s Advisory Council. In addition, he has published more a dozen books, hosted several science-focused television programs, and currently hosts a popular podcast called StarTalk.
Supporting Students, No Matter What Career They Choose
The Manne Institute’s research facilities will help Bronx Science students learn vital analytical and problem-solving skills—skills that are priceless, no matter what career path they ultimately follow. At the same time, the institute’s research opportunities and advanced facilities are indispensable gifts to those students who wish to pursue a career in the sciences. The research they undertake in high school could allow them to gain admission to top universities. With the Manne Institute, Bronx Science could well produce the scientists who go on to solve future pandemics, cure cancer, or halt climate change.