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Prairie View A&M gets $50 million donation, largest in the university's history, from philanthropist MacKenzie Scott

Prairie View A&M gets $50 million donation, largest in the university's history, from philanthropist MacKenzie Scott

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MacKenzie Scott and her ex-husband, Jeff Bezos, at the 2018 Vanity Fair Oscar Party.
MacKenzie Scott and her ex-husband, Jeff Bezos, at the 2018 Vanity Fair Oscar Party. Credit: REUTERS/Danny Moloshok

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Prairie View A&M University has received a $50 million donation, the largest in the university's history, from writer and philanthropist MacKenzie Scott.

The historically Black university can use the money for whatever it likes. School leaders have chosen to allocate $10 million to juniors and seniors who had dealt with financial challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The rest of the money will go toward other university initiatives, including faculty development and recruiting, academic improvements and scholarships.

“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,” President Ruth Simmons said in a statement. “The timing of this gift could therefore not be better.”

The donation increases Prairie View’s endowment nearly 40% to almost $130 million, making it one of the largest endowments at any historically Black college or university.

Last month, Prairie View received a $10 million donation from an anonymous donor to help students impacted by the pandemic.

Scott, who is the former wife of Amazon CEO and billionaire Jeff Bezos, also donated $50 million to Morgan State University, a historically Black college in Maryland.

According to an announcement Scott made on Medium, she has given away $4 billion dollars in the past four months.

“This pandemic has been a wrecking ball in the lives of Americans already struggling,” she wrote. “Economic losses and health outcomes alike have been worse for women, for people of color, and for people living in poverty. Meanwhile, it has substantially increased the wealth of billionaires.”

At least four other HBCU’s received multi-million dollar donations from Scott earlier this year.

Disclosure: Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Prairie View A&M University have been financial supporters of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune's journalism. Find a complete list of them here.

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