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Author: Dana Givens          Published: 7/29/2020             50Black Enterprise Magazine

Mackenzie Scott

Last year, it was reported that Amazon founder, Jeff Bezos, was divorcing his wife of 25 years, MacKenzie Scott as the two engaged in a court battle for assets. Scott ended up walking away with a $38 billion settlement from the divorce and now the author and philanthropist has continued her own career, reportedly donating over $1 billion since the split. It was announced this week that Scott donated $160 million to various HBCUs.

In an unassuming post on Medium published this morning, humanitarian MacKenzie Scott today announced more than $1.7 billion in philanthropic giving to 116 institutions. An estimated $160 million of that giving is believed to have been given to several historically black institutions and two HBCU advocacy organizations.

The Thurgood Marshall College Fund, United Negro College Fund, Hampton University, Howard University, Morehouse College, Spelman CollegeTuskegee University, and Xavier University of Louisiana each announced “transformational gifts” today, with Tuskegee and Xavier officials citing gifts of $20 million.

For several of the schools, the gifts are the largest in their respective histories.

“This pure act of benevolence is clearly a game-changer and it could not have come at a better time,” said Hampton President William R. Harvey. “I speak for the entire Hampton University community when I say we are grateful to Ms. MacKenzie Scott, who has chosen to support us during this unprecedented period of uncertainty.”

“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,” said 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.”

The gifts are also believed to be the largest private donation from a single donor to the historically black college and university sector in U.S. history, and each unrestricted gift has been paid in full to each institution. It continues a historic era of giving for HBCUs over the last two years, which has resulted in several record-breaking donations to HBCUs across the country.

Scott said that each of the organizations received support due to sustained leadership, and cultural impact.

“Every one of them is tackling complex challenges that will require sustained effort over many years, while simultaneously addressing consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. And every one of them would benefit from more allies looking to share wealth of all types and sizes, including money, volunteer time, supplies, advocacy, publicity, networks and relationships, collaboration, encouragement, and trust,” Scott said.

Hampton University, Tuskegee University, Howard University, Spelman College, and Morehouse College are among the names that have received some of the largest donations in their history from Scott’s estimated $160 million donation distributed to  several historically black institutions and two HBCU advocacy organizations.
“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,” said Howard University President Wayne A. I. Frederick, M.D., MBA in a press statement. “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.”

“This pure act of benevolence is clearly a game-changer and it could not have come at a better time,” said Hampton President William R. Harvey according to HBCU Digest. “I speak for the entire Hampton University community when I say we are grateful to Ms. MacKenzie Scott, who has chosen to support us during this unprecedented period of uncertainty.”

Scott says she made the donation in recognition of the institutions contribution to educating marginalized communities. ““Every one of them is tackling complex challenges that will require sustained effort over many years, while simultaneously addressing consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic,” she says according to HBCU Digest.

Every one of them would benefit from more allies looking to share wealth of all types and sizes, including money, volunteer time, supplies, advocacy, publicity, networks and relationships, collaboration, encouragement, and trust.”