Author and philanthropist MacKenzie Scott is making history at across Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) in a monumental way. She first began her donations earlier this year to at least 6 HBCUs. This month, she doubled back to give even more millions. Scott has donated such significant funds to Black higher education, that for many HBCUs her gift is the largest from a single donor in their history.
MacKenzie Scott has been named one of the World’s 100 Most Powerful Women for 2020 by Forbes Magazine. She has continued to establish herself as a powerhouse dedicated to taking action against racial inequality, especially when it comes to education. She has found a direct way to make immeasurable impacts through her donations to HBCUs. Earlier this year, Scott donated millions to other HBCUs including Hampton University, Howard University, Morehouse College, Spelman College, Tuskegee University and Xavier University of Louisiana. It has been estimated that Scott has donated $160 million to HBCUs and HBCU advocacy organizations, with this week’s donations adding even more to that tally.
Prairie View A&M University received one of the largest donations from Scott in her latest round of giving. At $50 million, the gift even stunned the Prairie View’s President, as she shared in a statement. It is the school’s largest donation ever.
Ruth J. Simmons, President of Prairie View, commented, “This is a historic gift for Prairie View, coming at a time when the University had already decided and begun to invest heavily in key areas to strengthen its academic programs and improve student success. The timing of this gift could, therefore, not be better.”
She later said “I was stunned and, for a time, speechless. At first I thought I had surely misheard the amount, and I asked them to repeat it; they clarified that it would be ‘$50 (five zero) million.’”
Scott just donated a whopping $40 million to Morgan State University to be spread across the university’s programs. According to a statement from Morgan State, the unrestricted funds will be used toward the school’s largest endowment in history, among other important programs.
“This monumental gift will change lives and shape futures. I thank Ms. Scott for her due diligence and acknowledgement of the substantive value Morgan offers to so many throughout this nation and around the world, and entrusting that we will ensure the enduring impact of her generosity is truly transformational for many years to come,” said Morgan State President David Wilson. “Long considered as a gem in the crown of Baltimore City and the state of Maryland, Morgan’s dedication to improving the lives of the communities we serve is highly regarded. The receipt of this gift is clear evidence that the rest of the world is also taking notice in Morgan too.”
This week Norfolk State University shared that it also received $40 million, becoming its largest single-donor gift in its 85-year history from Scott. The school is the largest HBCU in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
Norfolk State President Javaune Adams-Gaston shared more details in a statement. “We are pleased to receive this level of support for transforming the curious thoughts of our students into the brightest minds of our world.” Norfolk State was identified as an institution that has “…strong leadership teams and results, with special attention to those operating in communities facing high projected food insecurity, high measures of racial inequity, high local poverty rates, and low access to philanthropic capital…”
Virginia State University received $30 million from Scott, making it the largest donation the school has ever received in its 138-year history. In a statement, the school outlined that the funds would support those suffering from the economic crisis through scholarship support. It would also prioritize leadership and professional development, career planning, and experiential learning.
“Ms. Scott’s legacy and generosity will touch the lives of Virginia State University students for years to come,” says VSU President, Dr. Makola M. Abdullah. “Thanks to her investment in VSU, a generation of students who are living through the challenges of a pandemic, a social justice movement, and reduced scholarship funding will have additional resources as they continue to pursue their dreams of a world class education at Virginia State University.”
Claflin University received $20 million from Scott this week, setting another record for the largest investment to the school. The funds will go towards scholarships, a sustainability endowment, workforce, and infrastructure improvements.
In a statement, Claflin University President Dr. Dwaun J. Warmack shared what the donation meant to the school. “We are grateful to Ms. Scott for her generous recognition of Claflin’s exemplary leadership and record of innovation in producing stellar academic outcomes,” he said. “This gift will have an immediate, transformational impact, not only on the university but on the greater Orangeburg, South Carolina community and the state. We are also inspired by the long-term impact it will have in preparing students to champion and shape the nation and world we all need – one that is more just, fair and equitable.”
Dillard University received $5 million from Scott this week, again making it the university’s largest donation from a single donor.
Dillard’s President and Vice President shared how this donation would make a difference at their institution in a statement.
“Ms. Scott is assisting many organizations to carry out their important missions. All of us at Dillard University are incredibly grateful to be among those,” said Dr. Walter Kimbrough, President of Dillard University.
“This gift will enable us to carry out strategic initiatives that will be beneficial not only during the pandemic, but will also position Dillard to reach greater heights well into the future” said Dr. Marc Barnes, Vice President for Institutional Advancement.
MacKenzie Scott is one of the world’s richest women. After her divorce to Amazon founder Jeff Besos, who has risen to the world’s richest man, she was given $38 billion as part of their settlement according to NewsOne. She is now said to have wealth amounting to an estimated $60 billion, taking into account her current stock in Amazon amid a boom in pandemic sales.
Scott shared through her article on Medium that she has donated $4,158,500,000 in gifts to 384 organizations across all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and Washington D.C. in the last four months. She not only has the funds, but the heart to back it up.
“This pandemic has been a wrecking ball in the lives of Americans already struggling. Economic losses and health outcomes alike have been worse for women, for people of color, and for people living in poverty,” Scott wrote. “Meanwhile, it has substantially increased the wealth of billionaires.
Though I’m far from completing my pledge, this year of giving began with exposure to leaders from historically marginalized groups fighting inequities, and ended with exposure to thousands of organizations working to alleviate suffering for those hardest hit by the pandemic,” she declared.
She went on to list several of the organizations she has donated to, which of course included several HBCUs.
“If you’re craving a way to use your time, voice, or money to help others at the end of this difficult year, I highly recommend a gift to one of the thousands of organizations doing remarkable work all across the country. Every one of them could benefit from more resources to share with the communities they’re serving. And the hope you feed with your gift is likely to feed your own.”
We truly commend Scott, who has taken a historic stand to redistribute wealth to a cause that will undoubtedly impact generations to come.