Philanthropist’s $1.7 billion in gifts includes Morehouse, Spelman colleges

Morehouse College glee club members perform during the 86th Annual Morehouse-Spelman Christmas Carol Concert at the Sisters Chapel on Dec. 1, 2012. Close to 100 singers from both the Spelman College and Morehouse College glee clubs performed 28 holiday songs.    Jonathan Phillips Special
Morehouse College glee club members perform during the 86th Annual Morehouse-Spelman Christmas Carol Concert at the Sisters Chapel on Dec. 1, 2012. Close to 100 singers from both the Spelman College and Morehouse College glee clubs performed 28 holiday songs. Jonathan Phillips Special

Credit: Jonathan Phillips

Credit: Jonathan Phillips

Two historically Black colleges in Atlanta are among the 116 happy organizations receiving nearly $1.7 billion from author and philanthropist MacKenzie Scott, the ex-wife of Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos.

Scott wrote Wednesday on the website, Medium, that Morehouse and Spelman colleges are two of the organizations that she has decided to donate money to as part of a pledge she made last year “to give the majority of my wealth back to the society that helped generate it, to do it thoughtfully, to get started soon, and to keep at it until the safe is empty.”

Each college received $20 million, officials from both schools told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Morehouse said in a news release that it will use the money for academic programs and other purposes.

Dr. David A. Thomas, the 12th President of Morehouse College. ALYSSA POINTER/ALYSSA.POINTER@AJC.COM
Dr. David A. Thomas, the 12th President of Morehouse College. ALYSSA POINTER/ALYSSA.POINTER@AJC.COM

“MacKenzie Scott’s beneficent gift to Morehouse and several of our companion institutions in the HBCU network is an investment into the future of Black excellence,” said David A. Thomas, the college’s president. “On behalf of Morehouse and the Board of Trustees, I would like to thank her for supporting our mission to develop men who are academically excellent and focused on leadership and service. This gift will help Morehouse to lay the foundation for the campus of the 21st century and continue the important work we do to produce graduates who effect positive change in their communities, the nation, and the world.”

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Spelman said it would use Scott’s donation to the college for various purposes such as technological infrastructure, developing new sources of revenue and improving academic facilities.

Spelman College President Mary Schmidt Campbell speaks during Spelman College 2016 Investiture Ceremony at the Georgia World Congress Center on Saturday, April 9, 2016.  HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM
Spelman College President Mary Schmidt Campbell speaks during Spelman College 2016 Investiture Ceremony at the Georgia World Congress Center on Saturday, April 9, 2016. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM

“The success of Spelman has transformed our society, launching Black women in STEM, in the arts, as entrepreneurs and in leadership roles across the public and private sectors,” said Mary Schmidt Campbell, Spelman’s president. “These significant new resources will enable Spelman to continue to graduate Black women with a competitive edge to become successful global leaders and social justice change agents in whatever they choose as their life’s work. We are so very grateful.”

Scott alluded to the nationwide protests against systemic racism and police misconduct in recent years in the Medium post as part of her motivation for which organizations received donations. The recipients included environmental organizations, LGBTQ groups, the George W. Bush Presidential Center and the Obama Foundation, she wrote.