Isidore Newman School has received the biggest philanthropic donation in the Uptown school’s history, a $3 million gift that’s likely to go toward construction of a new science building.
The money comes from a pair of Newman parents who are both doctors and entrepreneurs: Rupa Jolly, a dental surgeon who owns NOLA Dental Care, and TJ Jolly, the founder of Renaissance RX, a medical services company that will help fund the donation.
“We’re still digesting the magnitude of the gift ourselves,” said Head of School Dale Smith, who announced the donation in an email to Newman families this week, calling it “transformational.”
Smith said the school hasn’t started drawing up plans yet but will probably use the money to build a state-of-the-art science building. In his note to families, he wrote, “Science lies at the frontier of innovation in the world, and this gift in support of the sciences ensures that a Newman education remains cutting-edge, inspirational and rigorous.”
In a statement that went out with Smith’s email, TJ Jolly, who recently joined Newman’s board, said, “As medical practitioners and entrepreneurs, Rupa and I believe strongly in the power of science education to fuel innovation and improve lives.”
Renaissance RX, Jolly’s company, has gotten attention lately as a part of New Orleans’ growing crop of successful startups, a phenomenon local officials hope to nurture and promote as a means of diversifying the city’s heavily tourism-focused economy.
The company performs genetic testing that allows doctors to closely tailor the kinds of medications they prescribe for individual patients.
It launched two years ago in the nonprofit Bioinnovation Center and now has contract employees across the country. Just a few days ago, it announced it would sell an equity stake to the investment firm TPG, with plans to add 425 workers to the 80 it already employs in New Orleans.