Whittier College Receives Transformative Gift from Philanthropist MacKenzie Scott

December 15, 2020

Deihl Hall A generous $12 million gift from author and philanthropist MacKenzie Scott will go far to support Whittier’s mission of equity and inclusion in support of student success. The unrestricted donation will be apportioned to the areas that will make the greatest impact at Whittier, including providing additional need-based scholarships, creating new innovative programs, and support for the College’s Racial Justice and Equity Action Plan, Office of Equity and Inclusion, Gender Equity Center, environmental justice work, and faculty diversity efforts.

“Whittier prides itself on being a national model for providing access to higher education to students from all backgrounds. This transformative gift—the largest from a single donor in the College’s history—allows the College to further invest in this mission,” said President Linda Oubré. “It is also an affirmation that the innovative work we are doing at Whittier College is having an impact and being recognized beyond our campus.” 

“We have decided that this transformative gift will make the greatest impact by helping us invest in what matters most, our people: the staff, faculty, and students of the Poet community,” added Oubré.

Whittier College is among 384 leading non-profit institutions selected to receive a generous gift from Scott. She specifically selected organizations and organizational leadership that align with her vision to promote racial, LGBTQ, and gender equity, economic mobility, functional democracy, public health, global development, and climate change. Moreover, as a response to the current situation, Scott sought to support organizations working with those hardest hit by the pandemic. Scott’s team took a “data-driven approach to identifying 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.” In a public announcement last July, Scott said, “I pledged to give the majority of my wealth back to the society that helped generate it, to do it thoughtfully, to get started soon, and to keep at it until the safe is empty.”


Whittier College, founded in 1887, is a distinctive, national liberal arts college serving a diverse student population with unique, widely praised curricula. The College campus provides an intimate environment in which about 1,700 students live and study with more than 100 distinguished faculty. Whittier ranks as one of the most diverse liberal arts colleges in the country— with students of color constituting more than 70% of the student body—and is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as a Hispanic Serving Institution. More than 40 percent of Whittier students are the first in their families to attend college and most receive some form of financial aid. Whittier attracts students from every socioeconomic tier, from a myriad of religious and social backgrounds, and from 35 states and 27 countries. In our culture of diversity and inclusion, Whittier mirrors the changing global society in which we live. Through the power of a groundbreaking experience in the liberal arts and sciences, Whittier prepares the kind of leaders our nation and world most need. And, in fulfilling an educational mission of vital importance, Whittier changes lives and transforms communities.