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Bezos' ex-wife donates 8-figure gift to Howard University

MacKenzie Scott, who finalized her divorce with Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos last year, is donating the largest gift from a single donor in Howard's history.

WASHINGTON — MacKenzie Scott donated an eight-figure gift to Howard University, marking the largest gift from a single donor in the school’s history, the school announced Tuesday. Howard, a historically black university, will funnel the money into an array of programs supporting students, faculty and campus infrastructure.

“We plan to immediately put this eight-figure gift to good use to support components of our five-year strategic plan to help students graduate on time, retain our talented faculty, enhance our campus infrastructure and support academic innovation and entrepreneurship,” President Wayne A. I. Frederick said. 

The gift will also underwrite Howard’s Graduation and Retention Access to Continued Excellence (GRACE) Grant, which helps remove financial barriers to academic successes and encourages students to graduate on-time.  

“We hope that other donors will follow [Scott’s] example to lift the financial burden off of deserving students and help make ends meet so they can focus on graduating on time,” Frederick said. “With this unrestricted donation, we now have the opportunity to expedite our efforts and fund the initiatives in a way that will reap benefits for generations to come.”

Last year, Scott took the Giving Pledge, a campaign in which the world’s wealthiest individuals pledge to contribute at least half their wealth to philanthropic causes. Scott's gift to Howard comes as part of an announcement that she’s giving $1.68 billion in donations to 116 nonprofits, universities, and other organizations involved in racial, gender and LGBTQ+ inequity, economic mobility, functional democracy, global development and climate change.

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