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Philanthropist MacKenzie Scott Gives Millions To Southern California's State Universities, Community Colleges

FULLERTON (CBSLA) — More than half a dozen universities and colleges in Southern California received millions of dollars from philanthropist MacKenzie Scott in her latest round of giving Tuesday.

Cal State Northridge, Cal State Fullerton, and Cal Poly Pomona received $40 million each, followed by $30 million gifts to Long Beach City College and Pasadena City College. Santa Barbara City College was gifted $20 million, while CSU Channel Islands received $15 million. The gifts were the largest ever made by a single donor to each school.

Scott, the ex-wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, had already given more than $4 billion in gifts to community organizations and universities, including Whittier College and Mount St. Mary's University, last year. On Tuesday, she continued her campaign of giving by announcing $2.74 billion in gifts to 286 "high-impact organizations in categories and communities that have been historically underfunded and overlooked," she wrote in a Medium post.

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

To date, Scott has given away more than $8 billion.

Cal State Fullerton President Fram Virjee said in a letter distributed to the campus that the gift is unrestricted and will go toward the university's efforts in supporting diversity, equity, and inclusion; faculty research, support, and retention; improving the campus' infrastructure, matching fund projects, and enhancing community partnerships, a sentiment echoed by Cal State Northridge President Erika D. Beck. Cal Poly Pomona President Dr. Soraya M. Coley described the gift as a landmark that "will undoubtedly change many lives."

"While one-time dollars cannot be used to support long-term expenses in perpetuity, with a mix of focused spending and investment, we can, and will, use these dollars to transform our campus for generations to come," Beck said in a statement.

For community colleges like Long Beach and Pasadena, the gift was staggering in its generosity.

"This is the kind of moment that takes your breath away," Dr. Erika Endrijonas, superintendent and president of Pasadena City College, said in a statement. "We don't expect to receive this kind of recognition, but today, it's our lives that have been changed.

"I cannot wait to put this investment to work," Endrijonas said.

Southern California organizations and schools that were also included in this round of Scott's giving include $25 million to Chaffey College in Rancho Cucamonga, $20 million each to the L.A. Arts Endowment Fund and Homeboy Industries, $18 million to the College of the Desert in Palm Desert, and $10 million to the Japanese American National Museum.

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