A photo from Clark Atlanta University's home page

By Maria Saporta

Novelist and philanthropist MacKenzie Scott made a big splash in Atlanta on Tuesday.

First, Clark Atlanta University announced that Scott had made a $15 million unrestricted gift – the largest individual gift in the University’s history.

Second, Scott made a $5 million gift to Access to Capital for Entrepreneurs, the largest contribution it has ever received in its 20-year history.

A photo from Clark Atlanta University’s home page
A photo from Clark Atlanta University’s home page

Clark Atlanta University’s President George T. French, Jr., made the announcement of the $15 million gift – thanking Scott for her generosity and investment in the university.

“This transformational gift will enable the University to strengthen our academic programs; support academic innovation initiatives; enhance our campus infrastructure; provide scholarship support to students; and, build on our endowment,” President French said.

The University hopes that Scott’s gift will be a catalyst for other individuals, corporations and foundations to make additional transformational gifts to the University.  As the largest, private Historically Black College and University in Georgia, with over 40 majors and four schools, French intends to build on the University’s rich academic history in social justice, research, education, communication arts, and business.

“We have put in place several innovative programs, such as Cyber Physical Security in the School of Arts and Humanities, and The Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurial Development in The School of Business,” French said in a release. “Our enrollment is strong and growing across all four schools, particularly at the graduate degree level. With additional financial resources, the University can continue to strengthen academic programs, retain and recruit talented faculty, provide more scholarships to students, and renovate several historic buildings and residence halls on campus.”

MacKenzie Scott

Meanwhile, ACE, will use its $5 million to continue helping small businesses in metro Atlanta and north Georgia. The Georgia-based nonprofit works with underserved small businesses across 68 counties to rebound from the “devastating economic impact of COVID-10,” according to the release from ACE.

Scott’s generosity will help fuel ACE’s vision to create a ripple effect that not only has a positive impact on the individuals ACE serves directly, but also on their families, employees and communities through economic empowerment and equitable wealth creation.

“MacKenzie Scott’s inspiring transformative gift comes just in time to enable ACE to continue assisting these 600 businesses and more Georgia businesses with rebuilding in 2021,” said Grace Fricks, founder and CEO of ACE.

During this pandemic year of 2020 ACE has helped more than 600 hard hit small businesses with $24.5 million in loan capital matched with business counseling (this includes 172 Paycheck Protection Program loans averaging $26,000). Nearly half of the loans went to women, 39 percent to African American business owners and 17 percent to Hispanics. By comparison, ACE provided 91 loans last year and had 274 loans in its 2019 loan portfolio.

In the announcement, Scott said nonprofits “help by delivering vital services, and also through the profound encouragement felt each time a person is seen, valued, and trusted by another human being. This kind of encouragement has a special power when it comes from a stranger, and it works its magic on everyone.”

Scott is the ex-wife of billionaire Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon.

Maria Saporta, executive editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state. From 2008 to 2020, she wrote weekly columns...

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