UNPRECEDENTED: MacKenzie Scott Transforms HBCU Endowments With A Flurry Of Million Dollar Gifts In 2020

Guilt: the gift that keeps on giving. – Erma Bombeck

The year of George Floyd’s death and the European American guilt that accompanied it can be argued was the catalyst that led to the largest flurry of million dollar plus donations to HBCUs ever seen and it was led almost solely by one woman – MacKenzie Scott, the quietly known co-founder of Amazon who has emerged as a powerhouse in the world of philanthropy. Of the reported 37 donations of $1 million or more as reported by the Chronicle of Philanthropy to HBCUs, Ms. Scott is responsible for 22 of them. Her donation to Prairie View A&M University was the largest in the school’s history and the largest ever to a public HBCU. Questions of where the money actually ends up and who is managing it given Prairie View’s relationship to Texas A&M are worth investigation by PVAMU alumni. All the same, HBCU endowments began 2020 standing at approximately $2.1 billion combined. 2020’s million dollar plus donations to HBCUs are equivalent to roughly 33 percent of that – in one year. To put in perspective, these donations to HBCUs in 2020 were greater than Howard University’s 150 plus year old endowment and would be the equivalent of someone donating approximately $15 billion to Harvard’s endowment, which Ms. Scott actually could do. Again, unprecedented.

We have expanded our review of the data collected to include more information regarding those major donations to HBCUs as well as their presence in the overall landscape of major donations to all colleges and universities. Are HBCUs getting their share? Although HBCUs make up three percent of the United States higher education ecosystem, they do not tend to receive three percent of the philanthropic donations or value. This year breaks the mold with HBCUs receiving over 11 percent of the major donations and over 15 percent of the major donation value. Unprecedented is putting it mildly. While this infusion is beyond needed and could not come at a better time as many higher education institutions across the country are having real questions of future and long-term fiscal viability, those with well position endowments have far less to worry about in their ability to have the resources necessary to pivot in an ever changing education landscape. Despite this landslide of donations, there are still no HBCUs with a $1 billion endowment or more. Howard University is still leading the way and looking like the inevitable first, but after Howard and Spelman, there are a myriad of questions and concerns as to the endowment health of every other HBCU.

Despite no African American having the wealth to give at the scale of MacKenzie Scott, it still begs the question of where are the African American wealthy in making major donations to HBCUs on a more consistent and sustainable basis. Only 4 of the 37 donations on 2020’s list come from African American families. George Floyd’s death was clearly a catalyst for much of this giving to African American institutions in 2020, but relying on Black death as a means to spur major giving is morally problematic and acutely unsustainable. There is no reason that this list every year is not made up of predominantly African Diaspora and African American households. For reasons that are complex though, that has still yet to happen. It is also worth noting which schools received donations. While the usual suspects of Morehouse College, Spelman College, and Howard University are there, one-third of the donations went to public HBCUs whom rarely find themselves in the philanthropic spotlight. Lesser known, but just as important HBCUs like Claflin University, Lincoln University (PA), and Xavier University (LA) also showed up. A vital need is for the smaller HBCUs to receive major gifts, HBCUs like Texas College, Florida Memorial University, Virginia University at Lynchburg also badly need to receive major gifts to shore up their fiscal futures. African American households must be the one to lead that charge if major giving to HBCUs is to be burning bright tomorrow and not just a firecracker today.

$1 Million Plus Donations To All Colleges: 329

$100 Million Plus Donations To All Colleges: 7

$1 Million Plus Donations Value To All Colleges: $4.7 Billion

$1 Million Plus Median Donation To All Colleges: $6.0 Million

$1 Million Plus Average Donation To All Colleges: $14.4 Million

$1 Million Plus Donations To HBCUs: 37*

$100 Million Plus Donations To HBCUs: 0

$1 Million Plus Donations Value To HBCUs: $716.7 Million

$1 Million Plus Median Donation To HBCUs: $20.0 Million

$1 Million Plus Average Donation To HBCUs: $19.4 Million

HBCU Percentage of Donations To All Colleges: 11.2%

HBCU Percentage of Donation Value To All Colleges: 15.2%

1. MacKenzie Scott (pictured) – $50 million
Recipient: Prairie View A&M University
Source of Wealth: Technology, Retail

2. MacKenzie Scott – $45 million
Recipient: North Carolina A&T State University
Source of Wealth: Technology, Retail

3. Reed Hastings & Patty Quillin  – $40 million
Recipient: Morehouse College
Source of Wealth: Technology

4. Reed Hastings & Patty Quillin – $40 million
Recipient: Spelman College
Source of Wealth: Technology

5. Reed Hastings & Patty Quillin – $40 million
Recipient: United Negro College Fund
Source of Wealth: Technology

6. MacKenzie Scott – $40 million
Recipient: Morgan State University
Source of Wealth: Technology, Retail

7. MacKenzie Scott – $40 million
Recipient: Norfolk State University
Source of Wealth: Technology, Retail

8. MacKenzie Scott – $40 million
Recipient: Howard University
Source of Wealth: Technology, Retail

9. MacKenzie Scott – $30 million
Recipient: Virginia State University
Source of Wealth: Technology, Retail

10. MacKenzie Scott– $30 million
Recipient: Winston-Salem State University
Source of Wealth: Technology, Retail

11. MacKenzie Scott – $30 million
Recipient: Hampton University
Source of Wealth: Technology, Retail

12. MacKenzie Scott – $25 million
Recipient: Alcorn State University
Source of Wealth: Technology, Retail

13. MacKenzie Scott – $25 million
Recipient: Bowie State University
Source of Wealth: Technology, Retail

14. MacKenzie Scott  – $20 million
Recipient: Claflin University
Source of Wealth: Technology, Retail

15. MacKenzie Scott – $20 million
Recipient: Delaware State University
Source of Wealth: Technology, Retail

16. MacKenzie Scott – $20 million
Recipient: Lincoln University (PA)
Source of Wealth: Technology, Retail

17. MacKenzie Scott – $20 million
Recipient: Tuskegee University
Source of Wealth: Technology, Retail

18. MacKenzie Scott – $20 million
Recipient: Xavier University (Louisiana)
Source of Wealth: Technology, Retail

19. MacKenzie Scott – $20 million
Recipient: Morehouse College
Source of Wealth: Technology, Retail

20. MacKenzie Scott – $20 million
Recipient: University of Maryland-Eastern Shore
Source of Wealth: Technology, Retail

21. MacKenzie Scott – $20 million
Recipient: Spelman College
Source of Wealth: Technology, Retail

22. MacKenzie Scot– $15 million
Recipient: Clark Atlanta University
Source of Wealth: Technology, Retail

23. MacKenzie Scott – $15 million
Recipient: Elizabeth City State University
Source of Wealth: Technology, Retail

24. Anonymous Donor – $10 million
Recipient: Prairie View A&M University
Source of Wealth: N/A

25. Bruce Karsh and Martha Karsh  – $10 million
Recipient: Howard University
Source of Wealth: Finance

26. Seth Klarman and Beth Klarman – $10 million
Recipient: Spelman College
Source of Wealth: Finance

27. MacKenzie Scott – $6 million
Recipient: Tougaloo College
Source of Wealth: Technology, Retail

28. MacKenzie Scott – $5 million
Recipient: Dillard University
Source of Wealth: Technology, Retail

29. Oprah Winfrey – $2 million
Recipient: Tennessee State University
Source of Wealth: Media & Entertainment

30. Matthew Cullinan and Anna Reilly – $1.7 million
Recipient: Winston-Salem State University
Source of Wealth: Education

31. Jim Murren and Heather Murren – $1 million
Recipient: Howard University
Source of Wealth: Finance

32. Charles Butt – $1 million
Recipient: Prairie View A&M University
Source of Wealth: Retail

33. Charles Barkley – $1 million
Recipient: Miles College
Source of Wealth: Entertainment

34. Kenneth Chenault and Kathryn Chenault – $1 million
Recipient: Morehouse College
Source of Wealth: Finance

35. Joan Johnson – $1 million
Recipient: Spelman College
Source of Wealth: Retail

36. Frank Baker & Laura Day  – $1 million
Recipient: Spelman College
Source of Wealth: Finance

37. Charles Barkley – $1 million
Recipient: Tuskegee University
Source of Wealth: Entertainment

Source: Chronicle of Philanthropy

*Michael Bloomberg’s pledge of $100 million in 2020 to the 4 HBCU medical schools was not included in our list which was sourced strictly from the Chronicle of Philanthropy.

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