UCF received the largest donation in school history on Tuesday.
Philanthropist Mackenzie Scott announced on Tuesday in a blog post she and her husband Dan Jewett will be distributing $2.7 billion in gifts to 286 organizations, with UCF being one of the recipients of the gift.
In a press release, UCF said the school will use the gift to "strengthen its focus on social mobility while developing the skilled talent needed to advance industry across our state and beyond."
Director of Media Relations Heather Smith said in an email UCF has already received the $40 million gift.
"This gift is unrestricted and university leadership will be determining the best way to invest the money and maximize the gift's impact on students, faculty and community," Smith said.
Smith said this was the largest gift in UCF history. Prior to this, the largest single gift was $29.9 million in 2006 to benefit the College of Medicine.
In the blog post, Scott wrote "higher education is a proven pathway to opportunity, so we looked for two- and four-year institutions successfully educating students who come from communities that have been chronically underserved."
Scott also wrote these 286 teams were selected through a rigorous process of research and analysis.
"UCF is committed to helping students of all backgrounds earn a college degree. Eliminating achievement gaps and reducing barriers for students of all backgrounds and incomes has been a decades-long focus for UCF," the UCF press release said. "As a result, the university has made significant strides in reducing achievement gaps among student populations, dramatically outperforming the national average in key areas."
The press release continues, "This achievement demonstrates that students who are provided access to a college education, work hard and are supported by their university can graduate without disparity."
According to the most recent data from UCF Facts, UCF's six-year graduation rate is 74% and UCF set records for diversity in fall 2020: 48.5% of students were minorities and 27.5% are Hispanic.
"This $40 million gift will fund new programs primarily through the university's endowment that will foster success for all students, provide faculty funds to conduct groundbreaking scholarship and research, and amplify the impact of established and future partnerships," the UCF press release said. "Investing these funds generates returns that will support UCF's future and ensures the donors' generosity continues to have impact for decades to come."
Smith said endowment gifts are maintained in perpetuity. They are pooled for investment purposes and the funds generate returns that can be used each year.
"We are honored by Ms. Scott and Mr. Jewett's trust and confidence in the University of Central Florida," UCF President Andrew N. Cartwright said in UCF's press release. "Their transformational gift validates the work of our faculty and staff to foster student success and these funds will enable us to further increase our impact for generations of students. This unrestricted investment will accelerate our trajectory toward becoming the world's leading public metropolitan research university and inspire others to invest in building a better future for our students and society."
In the UCF press release, Scott pledged to give away most of her wealth in 2019. She gathered a group of non-profit investors to help her identify and assess organizations that have a major impact on a number of causes including economic mobility, positive social change, and equity.
"Through her donations, [Scott] has taken a data-driven approach to identifying organizations with strong leadership teams and result," the UCF press release said.
Cartwright said while UCF's resources are finite, the school can accelerate and amplify its impact with the help of others. He also called on alumni and friends to follow Scott's and Jewett's example by donating to UCF.
"Because every new dollar allows us to make new discoveries on distant planets and to solve problems here on Earth. Because every new investment creates opportunities for students to be the first in their families to earn a degree, creating new generational change for their families and their communities," Cartwright said in the UCF press release. "And because every gift helps create an impact that can only be rivaled by our dreams of what we can achieve together."