UMES receives historic $20 million donation | University of Maryland Eastern Shore Marketing Retarget Pixel

UMES receives historic $20 million donation

  • University among 384 beneficiaries of MacKenzie Scott’s generosity

    Tuesday, December 15, 2020

    The University of Maryland Eastern Shore is the recipient of a $20 million donation from philanthropist and novelist MacKenzie Scott, the largest gift from an individual in school history. 

    UMES is among 384 organizations across the country, including 17 historically black institutions, which collectively will benefit from $4.15 billion in the latest round of donations from Scott, the ex-wife of Amazon co-founder Jeff Bezos. 

    “We're grateful to Ms. Scott for recognizing the great work we do at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore especially with first-generation college students and under-represented minorities,” President Heidi M. Anderson said. 

    In a lengthy online posting, Scott wrote the “384 carefully selected teams have dedicated their lives to helping others, working and volunteering and serving real people face-to-face at bedsides and tables, in prisons and courtrooms and classrooms, on streets and hospital wards and hotlines and frontlines of all types and sizes, day after day after day.” 

    This past summer, Scott announced the release of $1.7 billion to support 116 organizations engaged in nine areas of interest to her; that list included Spelman and Morehouse colleges and Hampton, Howard, Tuskegee and Xavier (La.) universities, all private, historically black institutions. 

    Scott called the pandemic “a wrecking ball in the lives of Americans already struggling. Economic losses and health outcomes alike have been worse for women, for people of color, and for people living in poverty. Meanwhile, it has substantially increased the wealth of billionaires.”

    Scott said she challenged her advisers to identify “organizations with strong leadership teams and results, with special attention to those operating in communities facing high projected food insecurity, high measures of racial inequity, high local poverty rates, and low access to philanthropic capital.” 

    The pandemic has put renewed focus on the role financial aid can play in helping students from families struggling economically to afford tuition, room and board, even at public institutions like UMES, especially for minority students. 

    Intermediaries for Scott discretely approached the UMES president this fall as her team did research on potential beneficiaries for the next round of donations.  She was particularly interested in supporting those involved in gender equity, climate change and public health. 

    Anderson will use the funds to make strategic investments to benefit students short- and long-term. Among UMES' top priorities is financial assistance for students, many of whom are challenged in finding ways to pay for their college education. 

    “Most of this generous gift will be put in the University's endowment,” Anderson said, increasing the University's endowed resources from $30 million to approximately $50 million.

    MacKenzie Scott's Dec. 15, 2020 statement

    About the University of Maryland Eastern Shore

    The University of Maryland Eastern Shore, founded in 1886, is a historically black, Carnegie-classified doctoral research, land-grant institution offering more than 90 academic programs and concentrations leading to degrees from the baccalaureate to the doctorate.  UMES provides affordable access to higher education while developing innovative technology and research in key fields like agriculture, science, pharmacy and engineering.  For more information, visit