In a surprise announcement, billionaire MacKenzie Scott and her husband, Dan Jewett, announced June 15 that they were donating more than $2.74 billion to 286 different organizations throughout the country including a $40 million donation to California State University–Fullerton (CSUF).
Similar surprise donations were made in 2020 when Scott announced a combined donation of $6 billion to organizations working on COVID-19 relief, gender equity, historically black colleges, universities, and other schools.
In a June 15 Medium blog post, Scott said: “Because community-centered service is such a powerful catalyst and multiplier, we spent the first quarter of 2021 identifying and evaluating equity-oriented non-profit teams working in areas that have been neglected. The result was $2,739,000,000 in gifts to 286 high-impact organizations in categories and communities that have been historically underfunded and overlooked.
“Higher education is a proven pathway to opportunity, so we looked for two- and four-year institutions successfully educating students who come from communities that have been chronically underserved.”
The donation is the largest in CSUF history and was referred to as a “generational gift” by Fram Virjee, president of CSUF. Virjee said the allocation will be guided by CSUF’s strategic plan and mission for student success that includes diversity, equity, and inclusion; faculty research, support, and retention.
The university will also consider infrastructure improvements, the enhancement of community partnerships, and matching fund projects with its eight colleges.
Virjee also said in a statement that a large portion of the $40 million will be placed in the university’s endowment in order to generate funds to benefit future generations of students.
Greg Saks, vice president for university advancement, said in a statement, “When you consider that Ms. Scott works with the most sophisticated advisers available on the planet and, based on their research, they identified the unique and special transformational social change that happens at Cal State Fullerton, it is a ringing endorsement to the investment-worthiness of our university.”
In her blog post, Scott said her life includes “two assets” she has chosen to use to help others, including the wealth delivered to her by an “imbalanced” social system and “a conviction that people who have experience with inequities are the ones best equipped to design solutions.”