SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Two local universities received massive monetary donations thanks to billionaire philanthropist MacKenzie Scott and her husband, Dan Jewett.
Santa Barbara City College received $20 million from Scott and Jewett and Cal State Channel Islands in Camarillo received $15 million.
Scott, the ex-wife of Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos, awarded more than $2 billion to different schools and organizations across the globe. Using the blogging site Medium, Scott wrote about the decision to donate to $2.74 billion to organizations that focus on the arts and combating racial discrimination. She and her husband selected 286 organizations to receive the monetary gifts.
“Higher education is a proven pathway to opportunity, so we looked for 2- and 4-year institutions successfully educating students who come from communities that have been chronically underserved,” Scott said in her announcement.
The $20 million gift to SBCC is unrestricted and can be spent as the university pleases, but the school said it will help support a wide range of critical campus initiatives and student success programs.
“This visionary gift could not have come at a better time, as we are embarking on the creation of our new Educational Master Plan," said Dr. Utpal K. Goswami, SBCC president and superintendent. "These funds will empower us to implement transformational initiatives that will shape our community college of the future and provide the margin of excellence that we seek.”
In Camarillo, the $15 million gift will be used to help the university's lower income and minority student population.
“The generosity of MacKenzie Scott and Dan Jewett is a testament to the data that reflects the incredible work that our faculty, staff, and administration are doing every day to eliminate equity gaps and increase the social mobility of our students by creating powerful academic and co-curricular programs that support student retention and success," said Richard Yao, CSUCI's interim president. "We could not be more grateful for their generosity as we recognize the transformative power that this level of support has for our students and campus.”
The donation to CSUCI is the largest monetary donation in the school's history, Yao said.
Scott said the organizations chosen to receive the gifts are ones that strengthen communities, foster empathy and advance economic mobility. She said the organizations chosen are ones that are often overlooked by donors.
"Arts and cultural institutions can strengthen communities by transforming spaces, fostering empathy, reflecting community identity, advancing economic mobility, improving academic outcomes, lowering crime rates, and improving mental health, so we evaluated smaller arts organizations creating these benefits with artists and audiences from culturally rich regions and identity groups that donors often overlook."
For a complete list of organizations that received gifts from Scott and Jewett, click here.