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Three HBCUs announce they received the largest donations in the schools' histories

Three historically Black colleges and universities announced Tuesday that they have each received the largest single donation in their schools' history. Howard University, Xavier University of Louisiana and Hampton University were all beneficiaries of massive donations.

Two of the schools, Howard and Hampton, announced that the donations came from MacKenzie Scott, the ex-wife of Jeff Bezos who announced earlier Tuesday that she has donated $1.7 billion of her fortune to charity. Although Xavier said their donor chose to remain anonymous, Scott announced that she had also donated to the university. 

"I would like to thank Ms. Mackenzie Scott for her investment into Howard University and our 153-year mission of serving a diverse community of dynamic scholars who come here for an education and leave here with purpose to serve the world," Howard University President Wayne A. I. Frederick said in a statement. "We plan to immediately put this eight-figure gift to good use to support components of our 5-year strategic plan to help students graduate on time, retain our talented faculty, enhance our campus infrastructure and support academic innovation and entrepreneurship."

Howard did not disclose the amount it received — but Xavier said it was given $20 million. 

"The institution is known for its long history of producing more African American MDs than any other institution in the United States, also federal judges, civil rights attorneys, renowned artists and musicians, business leaders, and elected officials – serving on local, state and national levels," Xavier said in a statement announcing the donation.

MacKenzie Bezos
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and his then-wife MacKenzie Bezos pose as they arrive at the headquarters of publisher Axel-Springer in 2018. Jorg Carstensen / Getty

Hampton University — which received a donation from Scott but did not reveal the amount — said they are looking into several areas where the money could be spent, including scholarships, upgrades to science labs and the campus as a whole. Money could also go to the Hampton University Proton Therapy Institute, "where lives are saved daily from the devastating effects of cancer," the university said in a statement.

In a Medium post, Scott said she enlisted a team of non-profit advisers with representation from marginalized communities to help her identify the most effective charities to fund. 

"I began work to complete my pledge with the belief that my life had yielded two assets that could be of particular value to others: the money these systems helped deliver to me, and a conviction that people who have experience with inequities are the ones best equipped to design solutions," she wrote. 

Scott, 50, is believed to be the third-richest woman in the country, with a net worth of $36 billion, according to Forbes. Most of her wealth comes from her 4% stake in Amazon, which was part of her divorce settlement.   

Megan Cerullo contributed reporting.

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