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Twelve philanthropists and business people Tuesday announced a $36 million challenge grant to create and expand Jewish day schools nationwide.

Each of the 12 partners contributed $1.5 million, for a total of $18 million. The award recipients would have to match the donation dollar for dollar over a five-year period, the partners told a news conference.

One of the contributors, Michael Steinhardt, a retired investment broker from New York, said the grant was needed to keep Jewish education alive in the country.

A total of four schools -- in Cherry Hill, N.J.; Columbus, Ohio; Palo Alto, Calif.; and Austin, Texas -- received $100,000 grants Tuesday. The grants can be used only for planning and start-up costs.

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