Story at a glance
- Xavier University of Louisiana received $20 million in funding, possibly from MacKenzie Scott, a writer and Jeff Bezos’s ex-wife.
- The money will go towards the school's endowment, need-based scholarships and aiding new faculty positions.
- This comes as protests nationwide demand more funding and resources into Black communities.
Xavier University of Louisiana, a historically Black college, received an anonymous donation Tuesday of $20 million — the largest in the school’s 100-year history.
University officials released a statement saying that the donation represents “an entrée into a new era of fundraising” at the nearly century-old school.
Xavier’s announcement of its donation comes at the same time that MacKenzie Scott, writer and ex-wife of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, wrote in a statement that she donated nearly $1.7 billion of her wealth across about 120 organizations, including Xavier University, the Times-Picayune reports.
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University President Reynold Verret said the school will siphon a portion of the donation to invest in its endowment and need-based scholarships.
“There’s a talent out there that we as a nation do not develop or take advantage of, and that’s our loss,” Verret said. “Some of the great innovators in this country come from all sectors of our society, and we forget that.”
The money will also go towards endowing new faculty positions in the school’s departments for law, pharmacy, the arts, humanities and medical sciences.
Xavier University, which was established as a Catholic institution, was founded in 1925, and its renowned College of Pharmacy was opened in 1927. Its statistics cite that 73 percent of its enrollment is African American, while 16 percent is Catholic. More than 87 percent of the school’s undergraduates apply for and receive need-based financial aid, while more than 65 percent receive Pell grants. The school notes that due to many of its students having “limited financial resources” the university maintains a policy of a relatively low tuition of about $22,503 annually.
Its operating revenue is more than $125 million, with its endowment being $178 million.
Other grants Xavier University has received include the Coca-Cola Foundation Awards to support the recruitment of Black male students, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation grant to establish a pipeline between Xavier and community college students, and a National Science Foundation Grant to increase the participation of women in science, technology, engineering and mathematical (STEM) careers.
“What this gift speaks to is a larger recognition of what we've been doing for some time,” Verret added. “We see the return on the investment at a place like Xavier is phenomenal.”
This donation is significant as the Black Lives Matter movement rallies around the idea of allocating government funds into Black communities to bridge socioeconomic gaps. Cities like Asheville, N.C., have passed legislation supporting this agenda and rerouting more funds into underserved communities and schools.
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