Howard University announced Tuesday it has received “a generous eight-figure gift” from author and philanthropist MacKenzie Scott. The gift is the largest one from a single donor in the historically Black university’s history.
The Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF) also announced it received “a generous donation” from Scott in support of its efforts to empower students attending historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and predominantly Black institutions (PBI).
Scott is the former wife of Amazon.com Inc. founder Jeff Bezos. Her gifts to Howard and TMCF are part of the nearly $1.7 billion she has donated to more than 100 nonprofits in the past year, reported Newsweek.
In a blog post on Medium on Tuesday, Scott published a list of organizations that she has donated to. The groups that are beneficiaries are ones that work in the fields of racial equity, LGBTQ+ equity, gender equity, economic mobility, empathy and bridging divides, functional democracy, public health, global development, and climate change.
“On this list, 91% of the racial equity organizations are run by leaders of color, 100% of the LGBTQ+ equity organizations are run by LGBTQ+ leaders, and 83% of the gender equity organizations are run by women, bringing lived experience to solutions for imbalanced social systems,” wrote Scott on Medium. “Driven by a deep belief in the value different backgrounds bring to problem-solving on any issue, we selected for diversity in leadership across all categories of giving, supporting vital variety of perspective and experience in solutions on every cause.”
Howard president Dr. Wayne A. I. Frederick thanked Scott for her “investment” in the university.
“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,” Frederick said in a statement.
TMCF president and CEO Dr. Harry L. Williams said Scott’s donation will help continue the fund’s work in nurturing students from underrepresented populations.
“Consistent with our mission, this donation will enable us to give even more scholarships to our member-school students to help them to persist and graduate from college, as well as continue the impactful programmatic work we provide to those same students to help them prepare for their professional aspirations,” said Williams, in a statement.