Pasadena City College has received a “landmark” $30 million gift from MacKenzie Scott, author, philanthropist and former wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, the institution announced Tuesday.
The “landmark investment” is part of more than $2.7 billion in donations to 286 institutions and organizations across the globe announced Tuesday by Scott and husband Dan Jewett in a blog post.
It represents “the largest single philanthropic gift in its nearly 100-year history,” PCC said in a written statement. The massive endowment “will dramatically expand PCC’s efforts to enhance the equity and diversity of the students and communities it serves.”
PCC President/Superintendent Erika Enrijona said she was overwhelmed by the massive gift, adding that she “cannot wait to put this investment to work.”
“This is the kind of moment that takes your breath away,” she said. “Everyone here does what we do because we believe in the ability of PCC to change lives for the better. We don’t expect to receive this kind of recognition, but today, it’s our lives that have been changed.”
Plans were still in the works for how the funds will be used, but they will be targeted to make as big an impact as possible in the lives of students, PCC representatives said.
“We need to make sure this transformational opportunity reaches as many of our students as we can manage,” ENdrijonas said. “We will be making investments in programs and services that increase student equity, drive completion rates across student demographics, and ensure student success at scale.”
The donation was unrestricted, officials said.
The PCC Foundation recently finished its major gifts campaign, garnering $16 million in support, according to the PCC statement. “Today’s donation more than doubles the assets of the Foundation.”
The huge influx of funding creates unparalleled momentum” for the college, PCC Foundation President Gloria Pitzer said. “The PCC Foundation is thrilled to be part of this exciting moment and to be trusted as custodians for this gift.”
In the blog post announcing the funding, Scott said she wished to see the recipient organizations highlighted, rather than herself.
“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,” she wrote. “In this effort, we are governed by a humbling belief that it would be better if disproportionate wealth were not concentrated in a small number of hands, and that the solutions are best designed and implemented by others.
“Though we still have a lot to learn about how to act on these beliefs without contradicting and subverting them, we can begin by acknowledging that people working to build power from within communities are the agents of change,” Scott added. “Their service supports and empowers people who go on to support and empower others.”
The blog post, which includes a list of large gift recipients, can be accessed online at mackenzie-scott.medium.com/seeding-by-ceding-ea6de642bf.