A big name helped announce a big gift for Our Lady of Mercy High School.

The school has received a $1.2 million donation from the Cheryl and Paul Speranza Foundation to create a new leadership institute named for Cheryl, a graduate of the school.

The institute, to begin next fall, will benefit all Mercy students, with a focus on young women of color.

“It’s for people who wouldn’t normally think of Mercy High School,” Paul Speranza said, adding that “45 percent of students are not Catholic. It is in the suburbs. There is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity here.”

The gift was announced by Dr. Bernice King, the daughter of Dr. Martin Luther King and Coretta Scott King.

“My father’s work was about the next generation. Ensuring that there would be a more just, humane and peaceful world for those who would come after him,” she said.

The institute is currently looking for a youth advocate, a program chair, and young female leaders to apply.

“Many of them are going to be firsts to go to college. There are going to break cycles in their families and in their community. Then the work that they do will impact thousands and probably millions of lives,” said King.