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Philanthropist Eugene Lang '38 Inspires Modern-Day Robin Hood

In 1981, a wealthy New York businessman named Gene Lang ['38], told a class of sixth graders in Harlem that he'd help pay for their college education if they made it through high school. The spirit of giving had come over him suddenly, he later explained, and he'd made the commitment "on impulse" because he'd been caught up in the moment.

Well, that spontaneous classroom moment led to the creation of the I Have A Dream Foundation, which has helped pay the college costs for 15,000 children around the world. It also set off a chain of events five years later when Harry Reasoner interviewed Lang about his charity on 60 Minutes. ...

"Well, the second that program finished, I picked up the phone," Paul Tudor Jones recalls. "I called Gene Lang. And I said I want to do what you're doing." Inspired by Lang's generosity, Tudor Jones started the Robin Hood Foundation in 1988, a charity that fights poverty using not only cash, but also the business analytics Tudor Jones learned on Wall Street. ...

Tudor Jones and his ground-breaking charity Robin Hood is the subject of another 60 Minutes report, this time reported by Scott Pelley (watch a preview). As for Gene Lang, at 94 years old, he and his generous spirit are still making headlines. In December 2012, he donated $50 million to Swarthmore College, his alma mater. It was the largest gift the college had ever received in its nearly 150-year history.

An entrepreneur and 1996 recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, Eugene Lang '38 has a long history of philanthropic involvement with Swarthmore. In addition to the Lang Center for Civic and Social Responsibility (2001), his gifts to the College have included support for the Lang Music Building (1975), the Eugene and Theresa Lang Performing Arts Center (1991), endowed professorships, and support for faculty research and student financial aid. In addition, in the more than 30 years of the Lang Opportunity Scholars Program, more than 200 students have completed projects to promote the common good in more than 70 cities throughout 30 countries.

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