HBCUs Get Record Donations From Billionaire Philanthropist MacKenzie Scott

McKenzie Scott and Howard University (Credit: Elena Seibert/Howard University)

MacKenzie Scott, former wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, has donated nearly $1.7 billion of her fortune to a variety of organizations and causes — including historically Black colleges and universities.

Last year, after receiving a quarter of Bezos’ Amazon shares as a result of their divorce settlement, Scott pledged to donate the majority of her wealth back to society.

In a July 28 Medium blog post, Scott followed-up on the pledge and provided updates on the organizations she has donated to so far.

“I began work to complete my pledge with the belief that my life had yielded two assets that could be of particular value to others: the money these systems helped deliver to me, and a conviction that people who have experience with inequities are the ones best equipped to design solutions,” Scott wrote in the post.

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“Though this work is ongoing and will last for years, I’m posting an update today because my own reflection after recent events revealed a dividend of privilege I’d been overlooking: the attention I can call to organizations and leaders driving change,” she continued.

Later in the post, she listed several non-profit organizations and HBCUs that she has donated to. She also wrote that she will highlight more organizations as she continues to give in the months and years to come.

The list of HBCUs named in the blog post were Hampton University, Howard University, Morehouse College, Spelman College, Tuskegee University, and Xavier University of Louisiana.

Now, the HBCUs have started to receive those funds and have announced their appreciation in statements. On Wednesday, Xavier University explained how its $20 million dollar gift will be used.

This gift will enhance the university’s capacity to educate in the medical sciences, pharmacy, law, the arts, and the social sciences,” the school’s president said in a tweet from the university’s account.

Xavier added that the donation is the largest in the school’s 95-year history.

Howard University called its donation from Scott “transformative.”

“Howard University proudly announces a generous $40 million gift from author and philanthropist MacKenzie Scott,” Howard said in a press release. “A former pupil of Howard alumna Toni Morrison, Scott’s gift marks the largest gift from a single donor in school history.”

“I would like to thank Ms. Mackenzie Scott for her investment into Howard University and our 153-year mission of serving a diverse community of dynamic scholars who come here for an education and leave here with purpose to serve the world,” added Howard President Wayne A. I. Frederick. “We plan to immediately put this eight-figure gift to good use to support components of our 5-year strategic plan to help students graduate on time, retain our talented faculty, enhance our campus infrastructure and support academic innovation and entrepreneurship.”

Scott also said in her Medium post that she had included the UNCF (United Negro College Fund) and the TMCF (Thurgood Marshall College Fund).