LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Mount Saint Mary’s University, Whittier College, the YMCA of Los Angeles and several other several non-profits serving disadvantaged communities in Southern California received million-dollar gifts from MacKenzie Scott, a philanthropist, author and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ ex-wife.
Scott, who had pledged to give away billions away after her divorce from one of the richest men on the planet, wrote in a Medium post that she gave away more than $4.1 billion in gifts to 384 organizations across the country. There was a theme among her chosen recipients – food banks, emergency relief funds, organizations assisting with debt relief or providing employment training, and colleges catering to historically marginalized and underserved people.
“This pandemic has been a wrecking ball in the lives of Americans already struggling,” Scott wrote in a Medium post announcing the gifts. “Economic losses and health outcomes alike have been worse for women, for people of color, and for people living in poverty. Meanwhile, it has substantially increased the wealth of billionaires.”
Mount St. Mary’s University called the $15 million gift from Scott “transformative.”
“The vast majority of our students come to us from vulnerable communities, and their lives are transformed at Mount Saint Mary’s,” Dr. Linda McMurdock, vice president for student affairs at the university, said in a statement. “It will make an immediate difference in our students’ lives.”
Whittier College says the $12 million unrestricted donation from Scott will go toward providing additional need-based scholarships and support its racial justice and equity action plan, Office of Equity and Inclusion, Gender Equity Center, environmental justice work, and faculty diversity efforts.
“Whittier prides itself on being a national model for providing access to higher education to students from all backgrounds,” President Linda Oubré said in a statement. “It is also an affirmation that the innovative work we are doing at Whittier College is having an impact and being recognized beyond our campus.”
Oubré said the gift is the largest from a single donor in Whittier College’s history.
The YMCA of Metropolitan Los Angeles did not specify the amount of its gift from Scott, but called it “historic” and said it would allow the non-profit to scale up its emergency support programs and recover from the loss of being forced to close its branches due to the pandemic.
Other local non-profits Scott chose as beneficiaries include United Way of Greater Los Angeles, Goodwill of Southern Los Angeles County, the YWCA of Greater Los Angeles, and community investment fund Genesis LA; the YWCA San Gabriel Valley; and Meals on Wheels ad Goodwill of San Diego County, and the San Diego Foundation’s COVID-19 Community Response Fund.