Whittier College Tuesday announced a $12 million gift from philanthropist MacKenzie Scott, former wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, to be used for scholarships, new programs and efforts to promote racial justice and equity.
Whittier College President Linda Oubre said the school prides itself on being “a national model for providing access to higher education to students from all backgrounds. This transformative gift — the largest from a single donor in the college’s history — allows the college to further invest in this mission. It is also an affirmation that the innovative work we are doing at Whittier College is having an impact and being recognized beyond our campus.”
The funds will support the school’s Racial Justice and Equity Action Plan, Office of Equity and Inclusion, Gender Equity Center, environmental justice work, and faculty diversity efforts.
“We have decided that this transformative gift will make the greatest impact by helping us invest in what matters most, our people: the staff, faculty, and students of the (college) community,” Oubre said.
Scott, the world’s 18th-richest person, outlined her latest contributions in a blog post Tuesday, saying she asked her team to advise on how to give away her fortune faster. Scott’s wealth has climbed $23.6 billion this year to $60.7 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, as Amazon.com, the primary source of her fortune, has surged.
Whittier College is among 384 nonprofit institutions selected to receive a gift from Scott. She specifically selected organizations and organizational leadership that align with her vision to promote racial, LGBTQ and gender equity, economic mobility, functional democracy, public health, global development, and climate change, according to the school.
Scott also sought to support organizations working with those hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic, giving special attention to groups operating in communities facing high projected food insecurity, high measures of racial inequity, high local poverty rates, and low access to philanthropic capital.
Scott said in July that she “pledged to give the majority of my wealth back to the society that helped generate it, to do it thoughtfully, to get started soon, and to keep at it until the safe is empty.”