Howard University gets largest gift ever — $40M — from MacKenzie Scott, Jeff Bezos’ ex-wife

Howard University has received the largest donation from a single donor in the D.C. school’s 153-year history by way of MacKenzie Scott, former wife of billionaire Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.

Scott — who has pledged to give away her entire $38 billion fortune — granted $40 million to the historically black university, the school said on Tuesday. Her donation is the largest gift from a single donor since the school was founded in 1867.

“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.”

The school plans to split the donation across several of its ongoing infrastructure projects, including renovations to its Northwest D.C. campus steam system and making improvements to technology available for students. Some of the funds will be put toward new programs in entrepreneurship and faculty development.

Scott’s gift also will underwrite part of Howard’s Graduation and Retention Access to Continued Excellence Grant, a needs-based grant which provides a 100% match for students receiving the maximum Federal Pell Grant.

“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,” Frederick said.

Two other historically black institutions also received behemoth donations from Scott on Tuesday.

Virginia’s Hampton University said it received a large gift via Scott but did not disclose the amount. Scott later said she had donated $20 million to Louisiana’s Xavier University as well, marking that school’s own largest donation ever.

As part of her settlement with former husband and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos upon their divorce last year, Scott received 25% of the couple’s Amazon stock — a whopping $38 billion.

Scott has already donated $1.7 billion of that fortune, spread out across 116 organizations in nine areas she determined needed them the most, including racial equality, climate change and LGBT rights.

The NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, European Climate Foundation and the Obama foundation also received funding.

Howard University this week also received a $1 million donation from HBO to establish an endowment fund benefiting students interested in careers in the arts and entertainment industries.

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