MacKenzie Scott — a philanthropist, previously married to Jeff Bezosmade headlines last year for donating over $4.1 billion to 384 different organizations, including various HBCUs. Scott's donations were the most significant one-time gifts they had ever received for many of these universities. Furthermore, Scott didn't impart conditions on utilizing the funds, giving the universities complete control over individual donations.

Now, administrators from three of these HBCUs, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University (NC A&T), Norfolk State University (NSU), and Delaware State University (DSU), recently reflected on Scott's gift last year and revealed how the funds were used.

North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University

This Greensboro-based university received a whopping $45 million from Scott in Sept. 2020, though the donor remained anonymous until last December.

"We were certainly astounded when we got word," said Kenneth Sigmon Jr., North Carolina A&T's Vice chancellor of University Advancement. "And we didn't know at first who the gift was coming from."

"It couldn't have come at a better time for us. This was a tremendous icing on the cake," Sigmon continued. "We ended up closing our [fundraising] campaign at $180 million because of her gift. For us as a public institution, that allows us to do things we couldn't otherwise do because of restrictions on the state dollars we get."

NC A&T specifically utilized Scott's gift to increase the university's endowment, support existing scholarships, and create brand-new scholarship opportunities. This allowed the institution's 2021 endowment, $157.5 million, to be almost double the previous year.

"It didn't take us long to figure out how to use the gift because we already knew what we wanted to do with it," Sigmon added. "It was just having the resources. Her gift is reaching all corners of campus and putting us on a much faster trajectory."

Norfolk State University

Norfolk State received $40 million from Scott last year, and her gift made a huge impact on this Virginia HBCU.

"To get a $40 million unrestricted gift for an institution of our size is really unheard of," noted Clifford Porter, NSU's VP of University Advancement. "It has given us latitude to apply those gifts in the areas of greatest need."

In addition to financing student scholarships and the university's endowment, Norfolk State also used the funds to create a research opportunity fund. It's also worth acknowledging that the donation was "a catalyst" for increasing other significant contributions.

"Scott's gift almost doubled our endowment, and since her gift, we've seen an increase in major gifts of over $50,000," Porter stated. "When you receive a transformational gift like that, it really is a seal of approval for the institution and leadership. It says to people that you're doing the right thing at the right time. For us, it has really given a green light to other donors."

Porter also noted that portions of Scott's donation are being put back into the greater Norfolk community.

"There's not a lot of economic development around our campus. We're looking to partner with private entities to create student-friendly coffee shops and pizza places, just some things to make the community experience a lot better," he said. "Students don't have the luxury to do a lot of things within walking distance. So, we're trying to bring up the entire area around campus."

Delaware State University

Scott gifted $20 million to Delaware State University, and this was notably the largest one-time donation the Dover-based HBCU had ever received. Like NC A&T and NSU, Delaware State donated some of its endowment. However, DSU also had a "strategic" move in mind for the funds: acquiring Wesley University, a local private institution.

"When you receive a one-time shot in the arm like those types of gifts, you have to be careful in still staying focused on the strategic initiatives of your university, so the funds don't take you off that path," remarked Dr. Vita Pickrum, DSU's VP of Institutional Advancement.

Delaware State officially bought out Wesley College through Scott's gift, making it the first HBCU to acquire another university.

These three HBCUs prove that great things can be accomplished if more philanthropists give them the chance to shine, and Scott did just that with her donations.