Culture / Newsy

The $60 Billion Dollar Woman Gives $50 Million to Prairie View, Another Huge Gift to Houston YMCA

MacKenzie Scott is Making the Most — and Doing Good — With Her Share of the Amazon Fortune

BY // 12.15.20

Tuesday was a landmark day in the annals of Houston area philanthropy when billionairess MacKenzie Scott, ex-wife of Jeff Bezos with whom she helped found Amazon, gifted Prairie View A&M with $50 million and pledged $18 million to the YMCA of Greater Houston.

Both transformative, this is the largest gift in the university’s 144 year history and the largest gift in the 134 year history of the Houston YMCA

The donations were part of Scott’s adopting the Giving Pledge, made last year, to give the majority of her incredible wealth “back to the society that helped generate it.”

These two gifts were a mere drop in her philanthropic bucket with Scott rolling out her second major charitable contribution of the year, giving away nearly $4.2 billion to 384 organizations across the country as part of a plan to donate the majority of her fortune, which has grown to $60 billion.

In July, The $60 Billion Woman posted on her website: “Last fall, I asked a team of nonprofit advisors with key representation from historically marginalized race, gender, and sexual identity groups to help me find and assess organizations having major impact on a variety of causes.”

The illusive MacKeznie Scott did not agree to interviews on these gifts as is her wont, preferring to dole out her billions without personal media fanfare. She simply announced her latest gifts in a Medium post.

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Mackenzie Scott
As part of her recent philanthropic $4.2 billion gifts, billionaire philanthropist Mackenzie Scott has gifted Prairie View A&M University and the YMCA of Greater Houston. (Instagram photo)

“This is a historic gift for Prairie View, coming at a time when the university had already decided and begun to invest heavily in key areas to strengthen its academic programs and improve student success,” university president Ruth J. Simmons says in a statement. “The timing of this gift could therefore not be better.”

While there were no strings attached to the gift, university administrators chose to designate $10 million to create the Panther Success Grant Program, an effort to assist juniors and seniors with unpaid student loan balances created by the financial challenges posed by COVID-19. The remaining funds will be dedicated “to the university’s endowment to support high priority academic needs including endowed faculty positions, faculty recruitment and faculty development, improvements in academic areas, undergraduate scholarships and graduate fellowships.

The gift could not have come at a better for the YMCA, which due to COVID-19 fallout has suffered a $50 million loss.

“This gift will allow us to stay the course and amplify our efforts,” YMCA of Greater Houston president and CEO Stephen Ives says in a statement.

The YMCA’s release continues: “Today’s announcement is a continuation of her commitment acknowledging organizations, such as the YMCA of Greater Houston, that are operating in communities facing high projected food insecurities, high measures of racial inequity, high local poverty rates and low access to philanthropic capital.”

According to Bloomberg Wealth, Scott, the world’s 18th richest person has given away $4 billion in four months after announcing $1.7 billion in gifts in July.

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