Home » MacKenzie Scott, ex-wife of Amazon founder, donates $15 million to West Kentucky Community and Technical College

MacKenzie Scott, ex-wife of Amazon founder, donates $15 million to West Kentucky Community and Technical College

PADUCAH, Ky. — West Kentucky Community and Technical College proudly announced Tuesday, December 15, 2020, a $15 million gift from author and philanthropist MacKenzie Scott – the largest gift from a single donor in the college’s history.

In announcing the donation, Scott gave accolades for the college’s work on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) and initiatives to further opportunities for low-income and disenfranchised students under the leadership of Dr. Anton Reece, WKCTC president since October 2016.

The gift has been donated to Paducah Junior College, Inc., which is the foundation for WKCTC.

In 2019, Scott pledged to give half of her wealth to charity. In July 2020, the philanthropist wrote in the post, “116 Organizations Driving Change” about her first group of recipients of significant gifts, with the selected organizations “having a major impact” in the areas of race equity, LGBTQ+ equity, economic mobility, empathy and bridging divides, functional democracy, public health, global development, or climate change.

Ninety-one (91%) percent of the racial equity organizations who received Scott’s first gifts in July are run by leaders of color, 100% of the LGBTQ+ equity organizations are run by LGBTQ+ leaders, and 83% of the gender equity organizations are run by women, “bringing lived experience to solutions for imbalanced social systems,” Scott wrote in July. “Driven by a deep belief in the value different backgrounds bring to problem-solving on any issue, we selected for diversity in leadership across all categories of giving, supporting a vital variety of perspective and experience in solutions on every cause. All of these leaders and organizations have a track record of effective management and significant impact in their fields. I gave each a contribution and encouraged them to spend it on whatever they believe best serves their efforts.”

After her initial gifts, Scott asked a team of advisors to help her accelerate her 2020 giving through immediate support to people suffering the economic effects of the pandemic crisis, racial tensions, and other inequities.

WKCTC is one of the only three community and technical colleges in the nation to make the list of previous or current recipient organizations. “I am absolutely thrilled to hear this news,” said Dr. Paul Czarapata, interim president of the Kentucky Community and Technical College System. “West Kentucky Community and Technical College have always had an unwavering focus on the success of their students, and this is a testament of their commitment to excellence. This historic gift in a very turbulent time is such a blessing for a wonderful college!”

The gift is unrestricted, but Reece said the donor’s intent was made clear in the gift notification and recognition of initiatives he has led previously and will be carefully followed.