May 21, 2024
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CSUCI, SBCC get multimillion-dollar gifts from MacKenzie Scott


CSU Channel Islands received $15 million from MacKenzie Scott, the largest gift in its history. (courtesy photo)

Amazon billionaire MacKenzie Scott gave away another $2.7 billion on June 15, including $20 million for Santa Barbara City College and $15 million for CSU Channel Islands near Camarillo.

Scott announced the new round of gifts with a blog post that lists all 286 recipients, most of them public institutions and private nonprofits in higher education, arts and culture. She wrote that her philanthropic team “spent the first quarter of 2021 identifying and evaluating equity-oriented non-profit teams working in areas that have been neglected” and chose recipients “in categories and communities that have been historically underfunded and overlooked.”

“Higher education is a proven pathway to opportunity,” Scott wrote, “so we looked for 2- and 4-year institutions successfully educating students who come from communities that have been chronically underserved.”

One of those institutions is Santa Barbara City College and its foundation, which received an unrestricted gift of $20 million. The donation will support “a wide range of critical campus initiatives and student success programs,” SBCC said in a June 15 news release, and will help the community college deal with enrollment declines due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The CSU Channel Islands Foundation got $15 million from Scott, which is the largest gift ever received by the university, according to a June 15 statement from Richard Yao, CSUCI’s interim president.

“These funds will help to propel our work forward in eliminating the equity gap, increasing student retention and graduation rates and making significant strides in equity and inclusion,” Yao wrote.

Scott’s process, and the surprise nature of the gifts, is similar to the approach she took when giving out $4.2 billion late last year. One of her recipients in that round of donations was Direct Relief, the Santa Barbara-based humanitarian relief organization, which got $50 million for a new health equity fund.

The June 15 announcement was Scott’s third major philanthropic distribution in the past year. Those gifts add up to around $8.6 billion.