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Billionaire philanthropist MacKenzie Scott and her husband, Dan Jewett, announced new donations Tuesday of tens of millions of dollars to a group of Texas universities and community colleges that serve large amounts of students of color.
Scott, who owns 4% of Amazon and used to be married to its founder, Jeff Bezos, gave $40 million to the University of Texas at San Antonio, which the university plans to use to boost student enrollment, retention and graduation rates at the Hispanic-serving institution. She also gave $40 million to the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley and donated to multiple community colleges across Texas, including $15 million to Amarillo College, $15 million to San Antonio College and $30 million to San Jacinto College, according to a blog post announcing the latest donations, which total $2.7 billion.
Scott is said to be worth $60 billion and has given away $8 billion already to hundreds of organizations across the country.
“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,” UT-San Antonio President Taylor Eighmy said in a press release announcing the gift.
He said the university will announce plans for the unrestricted gift later this year.
According to UT-San Antonio, 75% of the 34,000 students who attend the university receive some financial aid. Around 56% of students are Hispanic. The university has seen its graduation rate increase in recent years, with its six-year graduation rate increasing from 31% in 2015 to 46%. Scott and Jewett chose to donate to the university because of its work to help students from under-resourced communities, the release said.
UT-San Antonio is also an aspiring Carnegie R1 university, the top research distinction among higher education institutions. University officials said this money would also help officials pursue that goal.
In December, Scott donated $50 million to Prairie View A&M University, a historically Black university, and $40 million to Texas A&M International University in Laredo, which primarily serves Hispanic students. Both gifts are the largest in each university’s history.
Disclosure: The University of Texas at San Antonio, Prairie View A&M University, the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, San Jacinto College and Texas A&M International University have been financial supporters of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune's journalism. Find a complete list of them here.