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Billionaire philanthropist MacKenzie Scott, the ex-wife of the world’s richest man, Jeff Bezos, has made an unrestricted donation of $5 million to the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, N.M. The institute made the announcement through its Facebook page on Wednesday. 

Scott, who previously donated $20 million to the American Indian Graduate Center, announced in a Medium post on Tuesday that she had gifted nearly $4.2 billion to 384 organizations over the past four months. “In July, I asked a team of advisors to help me accelerate my 2020 giving through immediate support to people suffering the economic effects of the (COVID-19) crisis,” Scott wrote. “They 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.”

Scott identified IAIA as one of the organizations for this initiative. IAIA says the donation will be put to use immediately, starting with increasing financial and technical assistance to students who are struggling to continue their studies during the pandemic. IAIA is also looking at funding endowed scholarships, getting the IAIA Research Center for Contemporary Native Arts off the ground, and building capacity to offer graduate programs in atudio arts and museum studies.

“This generous gift will be truly transformational for the college, which will unquestionably strengthen IAIA's ability to serve our students and other stakeholders,” said IAIA president Robert Martin (Cherokee) in a statement. “Most importantly, it will help to ensure that we achieve our vision to continue expanding our mission to offer culturally-based undergraduate and graduate programs that benefit Indigenous peoples in the arts.”

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