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MacKenzie Scott Donates $60 Million to 2 CUNY Schools

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Mackenzie Scott has donated $60 million to two CUNY schools as part of her $4.1 billion philanthropic mission.

Lehman College in the Bronx and Borough of Manhattan Community College both received $30 million, CUNY officials announced Tuesday.

The $60 million donation is one of the largest in the history of CUNY, school officials said.

“We are overwhelmed by the generosity of Ms. MacKenzie Scott and profoundly grateful she has chosen to put her faith in the abilities of Lehman College and CUNY to help realize her vision to make a difference in the lives of New Yorkers impacted by the pandemic,” said CUNY Chancellor Félix V. Matos Rodríguez in a statement Tuesday.

Scott, a Seattle-based novelist, was married to Jeff Bezos until their divorce last year.

“Her wealth has climbed $23.6 billion this year to $60.7 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, as Inc., the primary source of her fortune, has surged,” Bloomberg reported.

Scott also donated money to other New York City organizations including the YMCA of Greater New York City, and the YWCAs of the City of New York and Brooklyn, though the amounts of those donations were not immediately available.

In a post on Medium Tuesday, Scott explained she tasked her philanthropic advisors to identify organizations “with strong leadership teams and results, with special attention to those operating in communities facing high projected food insecurity, high measures of racial inequity, high local poverty rates, and low access to philanthropic capital.”

She ultimately donated to 384 organizations in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and Washington D.C. in the past four months.

Her donation to CUNY comes as the system is struggling with slashed funding and deep job cuts — Governor Andrew Cuomo has withheld approximately 20 percent of state funding to CUNY’s $2 billion budget as part of the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, which has taken a catastrophic toll on the city and state’s finances.

“On behalf of the entire Lehman College community, we are deeply grateful to Ms. MacKenzie Scott for this extremely generous gift that will enable the college to further its mission as a catalytic anchor institution in the Bronx by adding significantly to investments with high student impact, such as scholarships and career development initiatives; academic innovation and excellence; community stewardship initiatives; and college capacity building, while also addressing more immediate student and programmatic needs presented by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Lehman College President Daniel Lemons in a statement.

“The gift is transformative and comes to the college because of Lehman’s track record of outstanding advancement of social mobility for our students, a record that exists through the long-standing efforts on our students’ behalf by every part of the college,” he added.

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