When over a dozen colleges and universities in the U.S. were anonymously interviewed about their missions, little did they know billionaire Mackenzie Scott was secretly planning to donate tens of millions of dollars – to each of them!
Scott, the world’s 18th richest person who helped build Amazon with her now ex-husband Jeff Bezos, focused her donations on colleges and universities that tend to minority and lower-income students. Unlike the prestigious universities, most billionaires donate to, these schools are mostly unheard of.
“I think she’s making a very clear statement: the communities that these institutions proudly serve typically are those that don’t have a lot of means, but they have the desire, they have the grit, they have the energy,” says Tony Munroe, president of Borough of Manhattan Community College, a predominantly Black and Hispanic institution in Lower Manhattan who received a $30 million donation from Scott.
These donations come as part of Scott’s pledge to give most of her wealth, having donated nearly $6 billion within a year, with $4.2 billion going to 384 organizations in the last four months alone.
“For the people who are on the margins who see themselves as forgotten, this kind of gift is an endorsement of the value of what they are doing in striving for education,” says Ruth Simmons, president of Prairie View A&M University, a historically Black college in Prairie View, Texas, which received a $50 million donation.