MacKenzie Scott announced today that she was giving $2.73 billion to 286 organizations. It’s the third round of multi-billion dollar gifts made by the billionaire philanthropist, the ex-wife of Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos, in the past two years.
In 2020, she made two similar announcements, resulting in donations of about $6 billion for Covid relief and a number of other social, equity and justice causes, including several Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUS) and other institutions, many of which reported that the gifts were the largest in their history
Featured in this latest group of recipients are several colleges and community colleges as well as nonprofit organizations that focus on helping underserved students and those from low-income backgrounds be able to attend college.
Writing this morning in a Medium post entitled “Seeding By Ceding,” Ms. Scott said she, her husband Dan Jewett, and her advisors sought out “high-impact organizations in categories and communities that have been historically underfunded and overlooked.”
Because “higher education is a proven pathway to opportunity,” she explained “we looked for 2- and 4-year institutions successfully educating students who come from communities that have been chronically underserved.” The entire list of recipients can be found here.
Included in the latest round of gifts are more record-setting donations to institutions such as:
- The University of Central Florida (UCF), which received a $40 million unrestricted gift to UCF, the largest gift in the university’s 58-year history. The focus will be on strengthening the university’s efforts to advance social mobility while developing the skilled talent needed to advance industry across Florida and beyond. “We are honored by Ms. Scott and Mr. Jewett’s trust and confidence in the University of Central Florida,” says UCF President Alexander N. Cartwright. “Their transformational gift validates the work our faculty and staff do to foster student success and we are thankful these funds will enable us to increase our impact for generations of students. This unrestricted investment will accelerate our trajectory toward becoming the world’s leading public metropolitan research university and inspire others to invest in building a better future for our students and society.”
- Florida International University also received $40 million, as did the University of Texas, San Antonio.
- Three campuses of the California State University (CSU) system – Channel Islands, Fullerton and Northridge – received donations. CSU – Fullerton and CSU -Northridge received $40 million apiece, making them the largest gifts in each institution’s history.
- More than a dozen community colleges – many in California, Texas and Illinois – were on the list. For example, Amarillo College in Texas received $15 million.
- Both the American Indian College Fund and the American Indian Higher Education Consortium received unrestricted gifts.
Scott made clear in her announcement Tuesday that she is troubled by the increasing concentration of wealth among a small proportion of individuals. She said she worked with a team of researchers and philanthropy advisers “to give away a fortune that was enabled by systems in need of change.”
“In this effort, we are governed by a humbling belief that it would be better if disproportionate wealth were not concentrated in a small number of hands, and that the solutions are best designed and implemented by others,” she continued.
She added, “though we still have a lot to learn about how to act on these beliefs without contradicting and subverting them, we can begin by acknowledging that people working to build power from within communities are the agents of change.”