Hostos Community College gifted $15 million by philanthropist MacKenzie Scott



Lylia Saurel

American novelist and philanthropist MacKenzie Scott announced on June 15 that she will donate $15 million to CUNY’s Hostos Community College, the largest donation in the school’s history.

Scott announced the donation in an essay published on Medium titled “Seeding by Ceding.” It aims to empower organizations and institutions supporting American students who have been hit the hardest during the pandemic.

“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 wrote in her essay.

Hostos, which opened in 1968, is one of the seven community colleges in the CUNY system.

Welcoming over 7,000 part-time and full-time students yearly, its mission is to help students achieve socioeconomic mobility and transfer to higher education programs in four year colleges in and outside of the CUNY system.

“Thanks to Ms. Scott’s astounding gift, we will be able to better serve the men and women of the South Bronx who seek the myriad benefits of higher education,” Interim President Daisy Cocco De Filippis said in a report from CUNY.

CUNY Chancellor Félix Matos Rodríguez also publicly thanked Scott for her donation.

“I know firsthand as a former president that Hostos is a bridge of opportunity for the South Bronx, and has been transforming lives for decades,” he tweeted.

Hostos is one of 30 colleges and universities selected for support by Scott, her husband Dan Jewett and a team of researchers. In total, the couple will provide $2,739,000,000 to 286 organizations ranging from educational programs, art centers, museums and non-profit foundations.

Scott believes disproportionate wealth should not be concentrated in a small number of hands. In an effort to give away part of the fortune she made as Jeff Bezos’s ex-wife, she hopes to empower people who offer support to their communities.

“We can begin by acknowledging that people working to build power from within communities are the agents of change,” she wrote in her essay.

The philanthropist had already donated to two CUNY colleges last December, Borough of Manhattan Community College and Lehman College, which each received $30 million.

“We chose to make relatively large gifts to the organizations … both to enable their work, and as a signal of trust and encouragement, to them and to others,” she said.

Scott said she trusts the donation recipients to decide how to use the money in the most effective way.

“Many reported that this trust significantly increased the impact of the gift,” she wrote in her essay. “There is nothing new about amplifying gifts by yielding control. People have been doing it in living rooms and classrooms and workplaces for thousands of years. It empowers receivers by making them feel valued and by unlocking their best solutions. Generosity is generative. Sharing makes more.”