What a $50M MacKenzie Scott Donation Has Helped Achieve

She gave that amount in 2020 to Prairie View A&M University
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 14, 2021 9:51 AM CST
What a $50M MacKenzie Scott Donation Has Helped Achieve
n this March 4, 2018, file photo, MacKenzie Scott arrives at the Vanity Fair Oscar Party in Beverly Hills, Calif.   (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File)

MacKenzie Scott has famously given away billions of dollars of her Amazon-related wealth since 2020. Writing for the New York Times, Gina Cherelus zeroes in on where $50 million of those billions went: to Prairie View A&M University, a historically Black university in Texas. It's actually Texas' second-oldest public university, having been founded 145 years ago, and Cherelus observes that it has "historically received less money from the state government and philanthropists than state flagship schools like Texas A&M University," which also got its start in 1876. She details the various ways in which Scott's money has been put to use while also looking at the financial inequities Prairie View has been fighting against since its start.

"One of the most difficult things that we do as a state institution is to try to persuade this government that we deserve to be supported at the highest level," says university president Ruth Simmons. She's focusing on non-governmental funding and using Scott's money to drive the school's future success. For instance, Prairie View's endowment had been at $95 million. Thanks to Scott, it increased 40% to nearly $130 million by the end of 2020, the school announced last December. Per the school, it's now "one of the largest endowments at a Historically Black College or University." But it's hard not to contrast it with Texas A&M's endowment, which stands at $12.7 billion. Scott's funds have also been used to open a center for race and justice, establish the Toni Morrison writing program, and create a grant program that financially aids students impacted by the pandemic. (Read the full story, which includes one student's critique of how the money is being used.)

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