$1 million donation to Spellman

Thanks a million!

Cardinal Spellman High School, a beacon for graduating students – including U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor and former Borough President Fernando Ferrer – for more than half a century, has received a million dollar donation from one of its former students.

Alumnus, former media executive and current sports franchise CEO Paula Williams Madison made the gift through her family’s Nell Lowe Williams Foundation.

A leading light of the foundation, Madison Williams, dedicated a new library to the school named in honor of her mother, after which the foundation is named, in a ceremony held there on Tuesday, May 14.

“The Williams family is making this gift in honor of our mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother, Nell Lowe Williams, a woman of Chinese-Jamaican heritage who emigrated to the U.S. in 1945,” stated the family.

Williams Madison is a partner in Williams Holding Group, LLC, a Chicago-based, family owned company which has significant investments in media, including The Africa Channel, the WNBA’s Los Angeles Sparks sports franchise, as well as real estate and financial businesses.

“Our mother was never formally educated beyond elementary school, but her love for education and for reading, in particular, is why we are so proud to support the naming of Cardinal Spellman High School library the Nell Lowe Williams Library.”

Three generations of descendants of Nell Lowe Williams were on hand for the dedication, also as a way to pay tribute to the Lowe family dynasty of China, with a documented history dating back 150 generations to Shenzhen, China in 1006 B.C.

The million dollar donation will be used for emergency tuition assistance, faculty development, and for funding enhancements that foster academic excellence – everything from technology to building improvements, said Spellman president Father Trevor Nicholls.

Aside from such monetary gifts – part of a $4 million fundraising effort the school calls “The Next Chapter Campaign” – Williams is always giving back to the school, said school president Nicholls.

“It is not just money…but the fact that she has done so well and is a real inspiration to our students is her greatest value to us,” Nicholls said of Williams Madison, pointing out that this is by no means her first contribution to the school.

Nicholls said that she spent time outside the library after the dedication speaking with students.

Since 2009, Spellman has been financially independent from the Archdiocese of New York, keeping fundraising at the forefront and making it “make or break” financially for the school.

Students feel that if she can make such a success out of her life, they can too, said Nicholls. Seeing successful minority women is especially important with a student body that is about 80% black and Hispanic, he said.

“The majority of our students are like Paula. She comes to the school and is always like a breath of fresh air.”

She is really putting her words into action, he said.

Patrick Rocchio can be reach via e-mail at procchio@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 742-3393

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