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Jack Dorsey gifts $10 million to BU’s Center for Antiracist Research

Jack Dorsey donated $10 million to the newly established Center for Antiracist Research at Boston University.Cole Burston/Bloomberg

Jack Dorsey, cofounder and chief executive of Twitter and Square, donated $10 million to the newly established Center for Antiracist Research at Boston University, which was founded by scholar Ibram X. Kendi, the university announced Thursday.

The majority of the gift — $9 million — will go toward the center’s endowment, with the remaining $1 million to be used for hiring staff and funding its research, which has included looking at racial disparities highlighted by the coronavirus pandemic, according to BU Today.

“I’m elated,” Kendi told BU Today. “You want something, you work for something, you think something could be transformative—like a major gift to the center—but you never know when you’re going to receive it. For Jack to commit to us and to trust us and invest in us, I’m still coming to grips with it.”


“This research will inform and fuel much needed and overdue policy change,” Dorsey wrote on Twitter Thursday afternoon. “I appreciate you Dr. Kendi, and I’m grateful for your work!”

Dorsey’s donation to BU is the latest in his philanthropic mission to disperse $1 billion of his wealth to COVID-19 relief organizations through his Start Small campaign. The initiative, announced on Twitter on April 7, has already distributed nearly $200 million, according to a spreadsheet that tracks each donation. Dorsey’s net worth is reported to be $5 billion.

“What is amazing is just the generosity of Jack Dorsey and that it gives the foundation to the center,” said Robert A. Brown, president of the university, in BU Today. The funds, which the center may use without restrictions, “gives the director endless discretion about how the income from the gift will be used over time to advance the center.”

The $10 million gift is among the largest of Dorsey’s recent donations. Four other groups received donations of the same size, one received a $15 million gift, and two received a $20 million gift. Most of the donations centered on social justice organizations, education centers, and humanitarian aid groups, according to the spreadsheet.-


In recent years, Kendi, 38, has risen as a prominent scholar and author on antiracism. He has penned five books, including bestseller “How to be an Antiracist”, and is a contributing writer at The Atlantic. Kendi is the Andrew W. Mellon Professor in the Humanities at BU, a position formerly held by Nobel Prize-winning humanitarian Elie Wiesel, and will become the 2020-2021 Frances B. Cashin Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for the Advanced Study at Harvard University.

The gift is “a tribute to Kendi and his vision for antiracism and for the vision of building a center around scholarship and policy that actually has a positive impact going forward,” Brown said.

Beth McDermott, vice president for development at the school, told BU Today that Dorsey “wanted to make an immediate gift and ensure that the center has the wings it needs at the outset.”

“What’s incredible about this gift is that it allows us to begin scaling the size of our center extremely quickly, so that we can begin responding to and studying racism,” Kendi told BU Today. “One of the oldest narratives in American history is the narrative that people are the problem, as opposed to policies, as opposed to conditions those people are forced to live in.


“We need researchers and storytellers and evidence to create a new narrative that the problems of the society we need to fix are policies, not people, and we need to scale that shift from sea to sea.”

The Center for Antiracist Research will be composed of policy teams and multidisciplinary research teams, bringing together university scholars in fields such as law, social work, humanities, communications, computer science, medicine, and public health.

Matt Berg can be reached at matthew.berg@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @mattberg33.