Mackenzie Scott, ex-wife of Jeff Bezos, donates millions to HBCUs

    Among the beneficiaries are Howard University, Xavier University of Louisiana and Hampton University

    WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA – FEBRUARY 26: (L-R) CEO of Amazon Jeff Bezos and writer MacKenzie Bezos attend the Amazon Studios Oscar Celebration at Delilah on February 26, 2017 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Jerod Harris/Getty Images)

    MacKenzie Scott, the ex-wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, has donated millions of her personal wealth to historically Black colleges and universities. 

    Scott recently noted on Twitter that she dropped the ‘Bezos’ surname and is now using the “middle name I grew up with, after my grandfather Scott,” she wrote. As the third richest woman in the world, Scott announced in a Medium blog post on Tuesday that she has donated $1.7 billion to charity. 

    Among the beneficiaries are Howard University, Xavier University of Louisiana and Hampton University. Each confirmed that they received the largest single donation in their schools’ history.

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    “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,” Howard University President Wayne A. I. Frederick said in a 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.”

    Howard did not disclose the amount it received but Xavier was reportedly given $20 million. The university noted in a statement announcing the donation that the institution has produced “more African American MDs than any other institution in the United States, also federal judges, civil rights attorneys, renowned artists and musicians, business leaders, and elected officials – serving on local, state and national levels.”

    Hampton University did not reveal the amount received but intends to put the funds towards the Hampton University Proton Therapy Institute, “where lives are saved daily from the devastating effects of cancer,” the university said in a statement.

    Scott reportedly has a net worth of $36 billion, according to Forbes. Most of her wealth comes from the 4% stake in Amazon that she bagged as part of her divorce settlement.   

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    In her Medium post, Scott vowed to continue paying it forward “until the safe is empty.”

    “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.

    She listed some of the organizations she has donated money to over the past year:

    • Racial Equity: $ 586,700,000
    • LGBTQ+ Equity: $ 46,000,000
    • Gender Equity: $ 133,000,000
    • Economic Mobility: $ 399,500,000
    • Empathy & Bridging Divides: $ 55,000,000
    • Functional Democracy: $ 72,000,000
    • Public Health: $ 128,300,000
    • Global Development: $ 130,000,000
    • Climate Change: $ 125,000,000

    “Though this work is ongoing and will last for years, I’m posting an update today because my own reflection after recent events revealed a dividend of privilege I’d been overlooking: the attention I can call to organizations and leaders driving change,” she wrote.

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