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The library at Borough of Manhattan Community College, one of the schools MacKenzie Scott donated her wealth to. (Credit: BMCC)
The library at Borough of Manhattan Community College, one of the schools MacKenzie Scott donated her wealth to. (Credit: BMCC)

MacKenzie Scott knows the definition of “philanthropy.”

The ex-wife of billionaire Jeff Bezos — who has profited off the coronavirus pandemic as Amazon has consolidated its hold on the market and squeezed many small businesses — recently announced that she was behind a $4.2 billion donation to organizations that need it most.

The “no-strings-attached” money has been fanning out to 384 organizations in the past four months, according to the New York Times, and will benefit dozens of food banks, affordable housing groups, legal defense funds and YMCAs — as well as lesser-known, historically Black colleges.

“This pandemic has been a wrecking ball in the lives of American already struggling,” Scott wrote in a Medium post this week. “Economic losses and health outcomes alike have been worse for women, people of color, and for people living in poverty.”

[Related: Amid Pandemic Hunger Crisis, Entrepreneurial Women Work to Combat Food Insecurity]

And then she threw some shade: “Meanwhile, it has substantially increased the wealth of billionaires.”

Scott’s Amazon shares were valued at about $38 billion last year, and that amount has likely seen a healthy increase during the pandemic. The list of college recipients provides a stark contrast to the Ivy League universities and other high-endowment schools that typically enjoy hefty donations.

Tony Munroe, president of Borough of Manhattan Community College, told the Times he started crying when he found out the news.

“I think she’s making a very clear statement: The communities that these institutions proudly serve typically are those that don’t have a lot of means, but they have the desire, they have the grit, they have the energy,” he said.

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