SAN ANTONIO – The University of Texas at San Antonio and San Antonio College are included in a list of donations by billionaire philanthropist MacKenzie Scott, who just announced she has given $2.7 billion to 286 organizations.
UTSA will receive $40 million of Scott’s latest philanthropic work, made in an effort to address racial and social inequities. The Alamo Colleges announced that SAC will receive $15 million, the second multimillion-dollar gift by Scott to one of its colleges in less than a year.
Scott, the ex-wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, wrote in a Medium post that she made the gifts to enable the organizations to continue their work, and as a “signal of trust and encouragement” to them and others.
Donations were also made to San Antonio’s Esperanza Peace and Justice Center and the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center, as well as other Texas colleges like Brazosport College, El Paso Community College and Odessa College.
In a news release, UTSA said university leaders are discussing how to allocate the money in order to boost “student success initiatives” like enrollment, retention, learning and graduation.
Scott and her husband Dan Jewett “were drawn” to UTSA because of its connection with students that come from underserved communities, officials said, adding that about 75% of students receive financial aid.
UTSA identifies as a Hispanic Serving Institution.
“This gift is completely transformational for us, for our students, and for our community—it is a tremendous investment in our collective future. A college education is the best way to address inequities that exist in our communities. I am immensely grateful to Ms. Scott and Mr. Jewett for their belief in UTSA’s mission and impact as a Hispanic Serving Institution here in San Antonio,” President Taylor Eighmy said in a news release. “We look forward to announcing specific plans for this gift later this year.”
The Alamo Colleges said Scott’s donation to SAC is the biggest in the school’s history. The college was recently named the winner of the 2021 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence, the nation’s signature recognition of high achievement and performance among community colleges.
“We are elated at this news,” SAC President Dr. Robert Vela said. “Just as we are catching our breath after being named the nation’s number-one community college, this donation takes us to yet another level of amazement, excitement, pride – and gratitude.
“This investment in SAC’s mission of service will have an enormous long-term impact on the future of our students and the San Antonio community. We are so thankful to Ms. Scott for her belief in us and we are deeply grateful for her generosity.”
It is the third round of announcements Scott has made regarding her philanthropy, which values quick response and unrestricted donations that as an individual rivals the largest of foundations. In 2020, she made two similar surprise announcements where she donated about $6 billion to COVID relief, gender equity historically Black colleges and universities and other schools.
Scott made clear in her announcement Tuesday that she is troubled by the increasing concentration of wealth among a small proportion of individuals. She said she worked with a team of researchers and philanthropy advisors “to give away a fortune that was enabled by systems in need of change.”
“In this effort, we are governed by a humbling belief that it would be better if disproportionate wealth were not concentrated in a small number of hands, and that the solutions are best designed and implemented by others,” she continued.