Philanthropist MacKenzie Scott donates $40 million to UCF

Gift marks largest donation in UCF’s history

ORLANDO, Fla. – Mackenzie Scott, philanthropist and one of the world’s wealthiest women, has made a sizeable donation to the University of Central Florida that the institution can use however it chooses.

Scott and her husband, Dan Jewett, announced on Tuesday a $40 million unrestricted gift to UCF. The donation is among $2.7 billion Scott gave to 286 organizations, marking the third round of major philanthropic gifts Scott has made, which together rival the charitable contributions made by the largest foundations, reports The Associated Press.

The $40 million given to UCF will be used to fund new programs to help all students, provide funding for faculty-led research and scholarships, according to a news release.

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“We are honored by Ms. Scott and Mr. Jewett’s trust and confidence in the University of Central Florida,” UCF President Alexander N. Cartwright said in a statement. “Their transformational gift validates the work of our faculty and staff to foster student success and these funds will enable us to further increase our impact for generations of students. This unrestricted investment will accelerate our trajectory toward becoming the world’s leading public metropolitan research university and inspire others to invest in building a better future for our students and society.”

The donation is the largest gift in the university’s history, according to UCF.

Scott and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos announced their separation in January 2019 after 25 years of marriage. The same year, Scott pledged to give away most of her money.

According to Forbes, Scott’s net worth is nearly $60 billion. As part of her settlement with Bezos, she was awarded 25% of his stake in Amazon.

Scott has expressed concerns about the gap between America’s wealthiest 1% and the rest of the world. Those concerns were highlighted in a new report from the nonprofit investigative journalism organization ProPublica. It reported that the richest 25 Americans pay less in tax than many ordinary workers do, once you include taxes for Social Security and Medicare.

Last year, Scott announced $6 billion in donations to 500 organizations.

“People struggling against inequities deserve center stage in stories about change they are creating. This is equally — perhaps especially — true when their work is funded by wealth. Any wealth is a product of a collective effort that included them. The social structures that inflate wealth present obstacles to them. And despite those obstacles, they are providing solutions that benefit us all,” Scott wrote in a Medium post about the grand gesture.

She continued, “Putting large donors at the center of stories on social progress is a distortion of their role. Me, Dan, a constellation of researchers and administrators and advisors — we are all attempting to give away a fortune that was enabled by systems in need of change.”

Scott said the 286 organizations, including UCF, were chosen because they know “best how to put the money to good use” and they can spend the money however they choose.