MacKenzie Scott announces more donations to colleges, higher ed groups

by Jeremy

Dive Brief:

  • Billionaire philanthropist MacKenzie Scott announced Tuesday she donated to at least 31 colleges with students from “chronically underserved” communities as part of a $2.7 billion giving spree that also included several higher education groups. Scott gave to 286 groups in all.

  • Scott, who gave hundreds of millions of dollars to colleges last year, too, did not disclose the donation amounts. However, some of the institutions said Tuesday the gifts were the single largest ones they’d ever received.

  • The colleges can spend the money however they choose, which is unusual for gifts of that size.

Dive Insight:

Scott pledged in 2019 to give away a majority of her fortune and started fulfilling that promise with two massive rounds of donations to hundreds of organizations in July and December of 2020. She donated more than $800 million to colleges last year, with a large chunk of the money going to historically Black colleges and universities. 

Many of the institutions said then that the donations were the single biggest ones in their history. And schools reported gifts Tuesday that were of a similar size. The money went to two- and four-year institutions.

The University of Central Florida said Scott’s $40 million donation, the school’s largest single gift ever, would fund new student success programs and enable “groundbreaking” faculty research. The University of Texas at San Antonio, which also got $40 million, similarly cited a desire to use the funds to boost student success initiatives. 

The University of Illinois Chicago will create a Student Success Fund with its $40 million gift. The fund will support low-income and first-generation students, including by ensuring they graduate on time and helping them find internships.

Long Beach City College, a community college in California, will use its $30 million donation to address racial equity gaps and improve student services for its most vulnerable populations. The gift is its largest yet.

Scott wrote in a blog post Tuesday that the donations went to organizations that were rigorously studied and that the gifts were unrestricted because she felt “teams with experience on the front lines of challenges will know best how to put the money to good use.”

Experts have said they hope more donors follow Scott’s lead and give money without strings attached. Few big donations in higher ed are unrestricted, and so colleges can face difficulties raising money for certain projects. 

Several higher ed industry groups, including Achieving the Dream, which works to close equity gaps, and the American Indian College Fund, which provides scholarships and other support for Native American students, also got funding. 

The following colleges received a donation:

  • Amarillo College

  • Brazosport College

  • Broward College

  • Cal Poly Pomona

  • California State University Channel Islands

  • California State University, Fullerton

  • California State University, Northridge

  • Chaffey College

  • College of the Desert

  • Hostos Community College

  • El Paso Community College

  • Florida International University

  • Kennedy-King College

  • Lee College

  • Long Beach City College

  • Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College

  • Odessa College

  • Pasadena City College

  • Porterville College

  • Renton Technical College

  • San Antonio College

  • San Jacinto College

  • Santa Barbara City College

  • Southwest Texas Junior College

  • University of California, Merced

  • University of Central Florida

  • University of Illinois Chicago

  • University of Texas at San Antonio

  • University of Texas Rio Grande Valley

  • West Hills College Lemoore

  • Harper College

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