Howard University announced that it has received a total of $40 million as a gift from author and philanthropist MacKenzie Scott, former wife of Amazon’s billionaire chief executive, Jeff Bezos.
The donation is the largest gift from a single donor in the university’s history, according to a statement on its website.
“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,” President Wayne A. I. Frederick, M.D., MBA, was quoted as saying in the 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.”
The school will allocate the money to on-going campus infrastructure improvement projects and other areas. It will also implement a new faculty development plan to provide additional educational development opportunities for faculty, and develop a program focused on social innovation and entrepreneurship.
“Thanks to Ms. Scott’s gift, and the accompanying positive publicity, we hope that other donors will follow her example to lift the financial burden off of deserving students and help make ends meet so they can focus on graduating on time. With this unrestricted donation, we now have the opportunity to expedite our efforts and fund the initiatives in a way that will reap benefits for generations to come,” said Frederick.
Scott penned an article on Medium.com, where she explained that she had pledged to donate the majority of her wealth to civil society last year.
“There’s no question in my mind that anyone’s personal wealth is the product of a collective effort, and of social structures which present opportunities to some people, and obstacles to countless others,” she wrote.
At the end of her piece, she shared an updated list of the non-profits she has selected so far for her generous donations, noting that the list will keep growing.
She added that on the list, 91 percent of the racial equity organizations are run by leaders of color, 100 percent of the LGBTQ+ equity organizations are run by LGBTQ+ leaders, and 83 percent of the gender equity organizations are run by women.
Among the organizations listed are American Indian Graduate Center, Asian Americans Advancing Justice, Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice, Black Girls CODE, Educate Girls, Energy Foundation China, European Climate Foundation, Fund for Trans Generations, George W. Bush Presidential Center, Hispanic Scholarship Fund, LatinoJustice, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Obama Foundation, Transgender Law Center, and many others.