Eddie Rangel, a visual communications senior, says that Cal Poly Pomona gave him the opportunity to apply his skills and gain experience that would appeal to potential employers. He learned how to be okay with mistakes and failures, using them as opportunities to do and be better.

Rangel was excited when he heard that author and philanthropist MacKenzie Scott and her husband Dan Jewitt, gifted $40 million to Cal Poly Pomona, recognizing the transformational impact of a university education for all students.

Mackenzie Scott

In announcing nearly 300 gifts to organizations nationwide in June, Scott reiterated her commitment to bolstering the work of colleges and universities making a difference for underserved communities. She wrote in her Medium blog post, Seeding by Ceding, that “higher education is a proven pathway to opportunity,” echoing W.K. Kellogg’s belief that, “Education offers the greatest opportunity for really improving one generation over another.”

“We are attempting to give away a fortune that was enabled by systems in need of change,” Scott wrote. “In this effort, we are governed by a humbling belief that it would be better if disproportionate wealth were not concentrated in a small number of hands, and that the solutions are best designed and implemented by others.”

Scott’s gift allows flexibility for the university to allocate funds to where it is most needed. Cal Poly Pomona will designate the gift into two areas:

  • $32 million endowment fund to provide long-term funding for the university’s Strategic Plan, which includes initiatives to support student success, eliminate equity gaps and expand hands-on polytechnic experiences; and
  • $8 million Presidential Excellence Fund for university leadership to invest in new and existing university programs over the next three years

“This moment belongs to each of you,” President Coley said in a message to Cal Poly Pomona. “Each of you – students, faculty, staff, alumni, volunteers and supporters – helped build an institution that champions academic excellence, inclusion and diversity, opportunity for all and community engagement.”

Cal Poly Pomona is the No. 1 polytechnic university in social mobility by graduating low-income students into well-paid careers. The university prepares students through polytechnic experiences (PolyX); support programs and resources that strengthens personal growth and development; and through its focus on the future of work and civic engagement to give students flexible skills in changing work environments.

“That amount of money can really help keep up student success,” Rangel, visual communications design junior, says. “I’m really excited for students and what this can bring.”

Judy Nguyen, a business administration senior, was also happy to hear the potential of what Scott’s gift would give to Broncos, saying that the university has done so much to support her success. Nguyen says that the Polytechnic Advantage expanded her skills outside her major. She learned skills in computer science, engineering and creative arts by collaborating with other students and sharing knowledge through group projects. Along with technical skills, she also strengthened her interpersonal skills by connecting with students from different backgrounds and experiences.

“The Polytechnic Advantage means a lot to me because I’m able to learn about multiple things instead of focusing on just one thing,” Nguyen says. “Cal Poly Pomona has helped to support me a lot with things being more accessible, especially during COVID. If we ever needed anything, it’s really nice to have professors who genuinely care about you and are there for you.”

By Nancy Yeang
Published November 15, 2021