Just six months after making headlines for making $ 4.1 billion in donations to nonprofits and higher education institutions, philanthropist and writer MacKenzie Scott announced Tuesday that she had donates more than $ 2.73 billion to dozens of colleges that expand access to higher education for under-represented students, as well as advocacy organizations aimed at helping these students succeed.
This time around, the list of recipients of the unsolicited and unrestricted gifts included community colleges, regional colleges and nonprofit higher education organizations. Experts say donations likely catalyze fundraising efforts and lend legitimacy to these institutions – many of which have no endowment and have never received lump sum donations of this size.
“Higher education is a proven route to opportunity, so we looked for 2- and 4-year institutions successfully educating students from chronically underserved communities,” Scott wrote in a short blog post at Way on how she chose the 286 recipients of the gifts.
Long Beach City College in California was one of many two-year colleges that received a multi-million dollar donation. Mike Muñoz, acting superintendent-president at Long Beach, was shocked to learn that the college had received $ 30 million from the richest woman in the world.
“I’m like ‘Is this real? Is someone playing a trick on me? ‘ ”Said Muñoz. “
The college serves over 24,000 students and maintains a small endowment of $ 15 million. He was chosen as the recipient because of his work on equity and racial justice and plans to use the money to continue that work, Muñoz said.
As is the case with most of the colleges and universities on Scott’s list, the recent donation is the largest donation ever received by Long Beach City College. Donations of this size can change the lives of many institutions, said Amir Pasic, dean of the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at Indiana University.
“Usually, giveaways of this magnitude are the result of many years of cultivation and conversations” with potential donors, he said. with potential donors, he said. Fundraisers “usually imagine that these things will take years and maybe even a decade to come to fruition,” Pasic said. . “Something like this that comes out of the blue, especially for colleges and universities that are not among the most selective in our country, is truly remarkable. “
The money could inspire other donors to give to community colleges, which have historically been overlooked in charitable giving, said Karen Stout, CEO of Achieving the Dream, a nonprofit dedicated to charitable giving. community college reform.
“A large donation from a donor with the presence and reach of MacKenzie Scott will create a trust ripple effect that will bring in other private giving,” said Stout. “This multiplier effect of this important and important donation can mean everything for a community college.” . . . . .
Achieving the Dream received $ 20 million from Scott on Tuesday. Excelencia in Education, a nonprofit dedicated to helping Latino students succeed in higher education, also received a donation of $ 10 million.
Scott focused on colleges and nonprofits that are dedicated to equity and social change, she said in her blog post. All gifts are unrestricted, which means there are no strings attached and recipients can spend the money as they see fit.
“Because we believe that experienced teams on the front line of challenges will best use the money wisely, we have encouraged them to spend it as they see fit. Many have reported that this confidence greatly increased the impact of the giveaway, ”Scott wrote.
Amarillo College, a community college in Texas, received $ 15 million, the biggest gift in college history. The college can use the money to establish an endowment, said Russell Lowery-Hart, president of the college.
“It’s overwhelming in every sense of the word,” Lowery-Hart said in a statement. “We are also delighted, amazed and gratified by Ms. Scott’s incredible philanthropy. We are not only grateful to Ms Scott, we are in awe of her. .
Three universities in the California State University system – Channel Islands, Fullerton, and Northridge – received gifts from Scott.
Northridge received $ 40 million, the largest single donor donation in university history. The university plans to use the funds to close pay gaps, diversify faculty, promote academic excellence and provide holistic support to students, according to university president Erika Beck.
“While one-time dollars cannot be used to fund long-term spending in perpetuity, with a mix of spending and targeted investments, we can and will use those dollars to transform our campus for generations to come,” Beck said in a statement.
The Channel Islands received $ 15 million and Fullerton $ 40 million.
Philanthropic giving to education – which includes higher education institutions – grew 7.7 percent last year after adjusting for inflation, according to the annual report of the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy Report to the United States. About three-quarters of annual donations come from individuals, Pasic said. The rise in individual giving in 2020 was almost entirely due to Scott’s donations.
“If you had taken out MacKenzie Scott’s donations from last year, individual donations would actually have gone down,” Pasic said.
Although Scott’s donations fall outside the norm, they reflect a shift in philanthropy to colleges and universities. . Institutions that have received more donations in recent years are also noticing that the money is coming from a smaller number of donors, Pasic said.
For many institutions, the money will do more than fund programs and build endowments. Large giveaways and media giveaways lend legitimacy to community colleges and regional institutions that lack the star power that is typically needed to attract multi-million dollar donations.
“It gives a kind of symbolic recognition of the value, importance and value of these institutions in our society,” Pasic said.
Uduak-Joe Ntuk, chairman of the board of directors of Long Beach City College, said the money helps build confidence across the campus.
“It was a feeling of reaffirmation of the work that we have done,” he said. “It’s like validation: ‘you’re going in the right direction even if you don’t have a GPS. “”
Colleges and universities that have received money from Scott include:
Cal Poly Pomona
California State University Channel Islands
California State University, Fullerton
California State University, Northridge
Chaffey Community College
New York City University Hostos Community College
El Paso Community College
Florida International University
Long Beach City College
Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College
Pasadena City College
Renton Technical College
San Antonio College
San Jacinto Community College
Santa Barbara City College
Southwest Texas Junior College
University of California, Merced
University of Central Florida
University of Illinois at Chicago
University of Texas at San Antonio
University of Texas Rio Grande Valley
West Hills Lemoore College
Higher education nonprofits that have received money from Scott include:
Make the dream come true
Native American College Fund
Native American Higher Education Consortium
APIA scholarship recipients
Excellence in education
The education trust