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Salesianum announces new scholarships from massive Bezos donation

Delaware Public Media

The Salesianum School in Wilmington will receive a massive donation from a high-profile alum. 

The prominent Catholic high school for boys in Wilmington announced a $12 million commitment Wednesday from Jacklyn and Miguel Bezos—Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’ parents. 

The majority of the donation will endow 24 full scholarships to Salesianum— with preference given to residents of the City of Wilmington and to immigrants to the U.S. 

Miguel “Mike” Bezos went to Salesianum in the early 1960s, after immigrating to the U.S. from Cuba. The new scholarship will be named after the late Father James Byrne, who ran Casa de Sales, the residence in Wilmington where Bezos stayed with other young refugees. 

“The impact that Father Byrne had on me, as well as on the rest of us at Casa, has lasted a lifetime,” Mike Bezos said in a statement released by the school. “We hope that those who knew Father Byrne and those who identify with Salesianum's mission will join us in creating opportunities for more students with a variety of backgrounds to attend Salesianum and further enrich the student experience."

The Bezos family also committed to match donations above $100,000 to the school’s endowment over the next three years, up to a total of $2 million. 

"The establishment of this scholarship program creates extraordinary and ongoing opportunities for young men to attend Salesianum who might not otherwise have been able to do so due to financial constraints,” said Wilmington Mayor Mike Purzycki in a statement Wednesday. “I am very excited for students from Wilmington who will be eligible and I am most grateful to Jackie and Mike Bezos for their thoughtful and generous decision that will change many young lives forever."

Salesianum has not been immune to the sex-abuse scandals of the Catholic Church. 

Last year a former Salesianum principal was indicted on child pornography charges. The school announced at the time preliminary findings of its own investigation into his time at the school affirmed the government’s allegations.


Sophia Schmidt is a Delaware native. She comes to Delaware Public Media from NPR’s Weekend Edition in Washington, DC, where she produced arts, politics, science and culture interviews. She previously wrote about education and environment for The Berkshire Eagle in Pittsfield, MA. She graduated from Williams College, where she studied environmental policy and biology, and covered environmental events and local renewable energy for the college paper.
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