The billions of dollars MacKenzie Scott has quickly given away as no-strings-attached donations includes a total of $560 million to 23 historically Black colleges and universities. Known as HBCUs, many of the schools getting these funds are calling them “historic.”

They aren’t just talking about the size of the gifts or how she’s become in most cases the universities’ biggest individual donor on record. She is departing completely from the approach of early white funders, whose giving often sought to limit Black achievement, explains Tyrone McKinley Freeman, a historian at the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at IUPUI.

“In my view, it will take decades of Scott-style giving for HBCUs to recover what has been lost in time, compound interest and impact over generations,” Freeman writes.

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Emily Schwartz Greco

Philanthropy + Nonprofits Editor

Attorneys George E.C. Hayes, left, Thurgood Marshall, center, and James M. Nabrit, all HBCU grads, successfully sought to defeat school segregation in court. AP Photo

MacKenzie Scott’s HBCU giving starkly contrasts with the approach of early white funders of historically Black colleges and universities

Tyrone McKinley Freeman, IUPUI

When white philanthropists made large gifts to these schools in the 19th century and early 20th century, many insisted upon a vocational focus for Black higher ed.

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