MacKenzie Scott commits record donation to seven 1890 universities

1890 land-grant universitiesSeven 1890 land-grant universities are among the more than 300 non-profit entities that writer and philanthropist MacKenzie Scott selected to receive contributions from the multi-billion total she donated this year.

Each of these seven unrestricted gifts marks the largest single donor gift in the history of each of the universities.

Scott specifically selected Alcorn State University, Delaware State University, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, Prairie View A&M University, Tuskegee University, University of Maryland Eastern Shore and Virginia State University as part of her pledge to give away a majority of her fortune.

These 1890 land-grant universities were selected after a team of her advisors took a data-driven approach to identifying organizations “with strong leadership teams and results, with special attention to those operating in communities facing high projected food insecurity, high measures of racial inequality, high local poverty rates, and low access to philanthropic capital,” according to Scott’s Medium post.

Her advisors consisted of a team of non-profit professionals with key representation from historically marginalized race, gender, and sexual identity groups.

Dr. Makola M. Abdullah, president of Virginia State University and current chair of the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities’ Council of 1890 Universities, said that it was an honor for these seven historically black land-grant universities to be among the first recognized from the almost 6,500 organizations across the United States that were considered.

“MacKenzie Scott’s donation is a significant and historic investment in the 1890 land-grant system, as well as an evidence-based affirmation that the 1890 universities have and continue to have a ‘high potential for impact,” as her advisors stated,” said Chairman Abdullah. “On behalf of all our 1890 university presidents, I want to express my sincere appreciation and thank her for her belief in and support of our collective missions,” he added.

Dr. Mortimer H. Neufville, president and chief executive officer of the 1890 Universities Foundation, noted that the 1890 land-grant university system mission is reflected in many of Scott’s primary focus areas of support, including racial equity, support services for vulnerable populations, employment training, and education for historically marginalized and underserved people.

“Ms. Scott’s generosity could not have come at a better time,” he said. “Her benevolence will make a lasting impact on a generation of students who are struggling through the challenges of a pandemic and will ensure that those who join us as freshmen and transfer students leave our campuses with the knowledge and skills to be change agents throughout the world.

The seven 1890 land-grant universities Scott selected will receive the following amounts:

  • Alcorn State University: $25 million
  • Delaware State University: $20 million
  • North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University: $45 million
  • Prairie View A&M University: $50 million
  • Tuskegee University: $20 million
  • University of Maryland Eastern Shore: $20 million
  • Virginia State University: $30 million

In referencing why she selected the organizations she did, Scott acknowledged that “The pandemic has been a wrecking ball in the lives of Americans already struggling.” She also stated, “Economic losses and health outcomes alike have been worse for women, for people of color, and for people living in poverty.”

Dr. Eugene L. Anderson, vice president for external diversity, equity, and inclusion at the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) supports Scott’s assessment of the pandemic and is deeply grateful for her investment in the seven 1890 land-grant institutions to help address the inequitable ramifications the pandemic is causing our nation.

“The 1890 land-grant system has a 130-year history of successfully providing solutions for and support to marginalized populations in the U.S. and around the globe,” he said. “I am elated that Ms. Scott recognizes our successes and has chosen to invest in our ability to continue to play an important role in ensuring all Americans have an equal opportunity to flourish and succeed, even in these unprecedented times.”

Scott hopes that her team’s rigorous vetting process will generate the trust needed to pave the way for additional unsolicited and unexpected gifts to these organizations.


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