The parents of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos have made a $12 million gift to Salesianum School.
The $12 million gifts announced on Wednesday came from Jacklyn and Miguel “Mike” Bezos, class of ’63, to the Salesianum School Endowment.
Rev. Byrne , who died last year, served on the faculty at Salesianum School for decades. While at the school in the 1960s, he also served as director of Casa de Sales, a community established for high school-aged male refugees from Cuba. Miguel Bezos was one of those students.
A total of $10 million of the gift will be used immediately to establish the Rev. James P. Byrne, OSFS Memorial Scholarship, which will fund 24 full need students.
In addition to receiving a full-tuition scholarship, the Fr. Byrne Scholars will also receive funding for the incidental expenses that form barriers for underserved students, including books, retreats, service trips, AP test fees, prom tickets, etc.
The gift is one of the largest ever to a Catholic high school; and will enable Salesianum to advance its mission to provide access to students regardless of their financial situation, a release stated.
Bezos offered the following::
“We have been blessed in significant ways. One of them, very early on in my refugee life, was to have arrived at Salesianum School and to be part of Casa de Sales where I was surrounded by other young refugees going through the same scary experience. The impact that Father Byrne had on me, as well as on the rest of us at Casa, has lasted a lifetime. To be able to recognize his commitment as a priest, teacher, mentor, and missionary, is a great joy for us. We hope that those who knew Father Byrne and those who identify with Salesianum’s mission will join us in creating opportunities for more students with a variety of backgrounds to attend Salesianum and further enrich the student experience.”
Jackie and Mike Bezos are also matching commitments of $100,000 or more to the endowment over the next three years – up to $2 million as a way to inspire others to provide access and opportunity to Salesianum by creating scholarships of their own.
Although the net worth of Jeff Bezos’ parents is not known, a CNBC story from 2018 puts the figure at $30 billion. The money came out of a $250,000 investment in their son’s company.
Bezos went on from Salesianum to have a long career in engineering and management with ExxonMobil after working his way through college and graduating from the University of Albuquerque in New Mexico.
Amazon has a long-running presence with Delaware, opening one of its first distribution centers in New Castle. At the time, Amazon was focused on selling books online.
It built a fulfillment center in Middletown and is completing a site at the former GM Boxwood plant near Newport. Space has been leased south of New Castle, with the company planning to occupy a building in Seaford, Sussex County.