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MacKenzie Scott Gifts Record $20 Million to UC Merced

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Billionaire MacKenzie Scott’s decision to target education in her latest round of donations paid off for three Valley schools on Tuesday.

UC Merced topped the local recipients, receiving $20 million.

“In the most significant act of generosity in the history of our campus, philanthropist & author MacKenzie Scott and her husband, Dan Jewett, announced the donation of $20 million to UC Merced,” tweeted Chancellor Dr. Juan Sánchez Muñoz.

In a later tweet, Muñoz wrote that “we pledge to continue to do the work that made UC Merced deserving of this investment.”

Scott, the former wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, announced 286 gifts totaling $2.73 billion on Tuesday. Last year, she donated about $6 billion for COVID-19 relief and other causes. Included were gifts to Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Some of those donations were the largest ever received by the schools.

Gifts to 30 Colleges and Universities

Scott has made three rounds of no-strings-attached gifts, which together rival the charitable contributions made by the largest foundations.

Porterville College said Tuesday that it received $7 million, and West Hills College-Lemoore was on the list of recipients posted by Scott. In all, 30 colleges and universities received donations. The largest, $40 million, went to the University of Central Florida.

“Porterville College is incredibly honored to announce a $7 million gift from Philanthropist MacKenzie Scott and her husband Dan Jewett, which will provide support for our continuing efforts to educate underserved students and communities,” Porterville College tweeted.

Sought Out ‘Overlooked Communities’

Explaining her thinking in a Medium blog post,  Scott said the hope was to find “high-impact organizations in categories and communities that have been historically underfunded and overlooked.”

She further explained: “Because community-centered service is such a powerful catalyst and multiplier, we spent the first quarter of 2021 identifying and evaluating equity-oriented non-profit teams working in areas that have been neglected.”

Bill McEwen is news director and columnist for GV Wire. He joined GV Wire in August 2017 after 37 years at The Fresno Bee. With The Bee, he served as Opinion Editor, City Hall reporter, Metro columnist, sports columnist and sports editor through the years. His work has been frequently honored by the California Newspapers Publishers Association, including authoring first-place editorials in 2015 and 2016. Bill and his wife, Karen, are proud parents of two adult sons, and they have two grandsons. You can contact Bill at 559-492-4031 or at Send an Email