MacKenzie Scott, the billionaire philanthropist and ex-wife of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, is donating $5 million to City Colleges of Chicago’s Kennedy-King College, the community colleges system announced Tuesday, the same day Scott said she donated another $2.7 billion to 286 "high-impact organizations."
Described by the city colleges as "the largest gift by any single private donor to Kennedy-King College and City Colleges of Chicago Foundation on record," Scott's gift will be used to give more students access to community college in Chicago.
"We are dedicated to realizing the full potential of each one of our talented students,” said Kennedy-King College President Greg A. Thomas in a statement. "We are deeply grateful to Ms. Scott for a gift that will help ensure our students’ ability to access college and help our students – 93% who are African American or Latinx – break down barriers of their own by launching careers in high-demand fields."
Scott listed Kennedy-King College in a blog post on Tuesday that outlined the mission behind her latest round of donations.
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"Because community-centered service is such a powerful catalyst and multiplier, we spent the first quarter of 2021 identifying and evaluating equity-oriented non-profit teams working in areas that have been neglected," Scott wrote. "The result was $2,739,000,000 in gifts to 286 high-impact organizations in categories and communities that have been historically underfunded and overlooked."
Scott said she sought two- and four-year institutions "successfully educating students who come from communities that have been chronically underserved," because "higher education is a proven pathway to opportunity."
Kennedy-King College, recognized by Forbes Magazine as one of the top 10 community colleges in the country, said it serves the largest predominantly African American student body on Forbes' list, compiled by Academic Influence.
"Kennedy-King plays a transformational role in students’ lives – guiding them along a path to upward mobility and, in doing so, contributing to a more diverse and inclusive Chicago economy,” said City Colleges of Chicago Chancellor Juan Salgado.
Kennedy-King College is located in Chicago's Englewood neighborhood and was named after Robert F. Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The college said its student body includes nearly 5,000 students and offers "credit classes in a wide range of subjects, as well as continuing education classes, and free GED and ESL courses."
"The college is committed to removing barriers to student success. Kennedy-King offers the full-tuition Statesmen Scholarship," the school said in a statement. "As one of the seven City Colleges of Chicago, Kennedy-King College also offers the Star Scholarship, a last dollar full tuition and books scholarship for qualifying high school students, and the Fresh Start debt forgiveness program, which allows former City Colleges students to return to college and 'learn off' their debt."