MacKenzie Scott, 4% owner of Amazon, and former spouse of founder Jeff Bezos has donated a portion of her fortune to advance educational pursuits within several Hispanic-serving institutions across Texas, including the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA), the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, and multiple other community colleges in the region.
UTSA is the recipient of a $40 million unrestricted gift that will help boost student enrollment, retention, and graduation rates, and will ultimately best serve the communities.
“This gift is completely transformational for us, for our students, and for our community—it is a tremendous investment in our collective future. A college education is the best way to address inequities that exist in our communities,” UTSA President Taylor Eighmy said in a press release.
As an aspiring Carnegie R1 university, UTSA hopes to use a portion of the funds to pursue goals to attain the top research distinction. According to her blog post, Scott and her husband, Dan Jewett, made the respective donations to each school based on the desire to help promote improved access to higher education in under-resourced black, indigenous, and other people of color (BIPOC) communities.
56% of UTSA’s student population is made up of Hispanic students, with 75% of the 34,000 students enrolled receiving some form of financial aid.
According to Scott, the intent of community-centered service should be based on the notion of providing every individual equal access to success, and to look more closely at communities that have historically been overlooked.
“Higher education is a proven pathway to opportunity, so we looked for 2- and 4-year institutions successfully educating students who come from communities that have been chronically underserved,” said Scott.