Billionaire philanthropist and author MacKenzie Scott have given more than $1.5 billion to around six dozen colleges and universities. She announced her latest giving spree this week in a blog post on Medium, noting that she was donating to 31 more colleges with students from “chronically underserved” communities. Scott began her funding blitz last summer when she announced her first round of gifts. She followed up with more donations in December and then again this week. Her contributions have been unrestricted, giving schools freedom over how they use the funds.
Giving to minority-serving institutions has been a priority in all three rounds of donations. So far, Scott has provided $702 million to Hispanic-serving institutions, $560 million to historically Black colleges, and $26 million to tribal colleges and universities, based on Higher Ed Dive’s analysis. Five of the 73 schools to receive gifts have not publicly shared their donation amounts as of press time.
Though Scott gave a nearly matching donation to four- and two-year schools, the former group received more significant amounts. Even so, the contributions have been a boon to community colleges, which rarely see even seven-figure gifts. Indian River State College said it received $45 million from Scott last year — her most significant contribution to a two-year school. And in her third round of donations, Scott gave 13 two-year schools amounts of $15 million or more, based on gifts reported so far.
According to a Higher Ed Dive analysis of federal data, schools that serve large shares of low-income students also have taken priority. In 2018-19, around 34% of undergraduates nationwide received Pell Grants, an indicator of financial need. But Scott’s gifts tended to focus on schools where larger shares of learners receive the awards.
In her first round, Scott donated to just six higher education institutions, all of which were HBCUs. Her second and third rounds each included about three dozen colleges. However, in her final round, she focused on HSIs instead of HBCUs and tribal colleges.