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  • Writer's pictureJamal Saafir

Billionaire Elon Musk Plans To Open University In Austin, Texas

According to a report from TIME , Elon Musk, who relocated to Texas during the pandemic, is looking to start a university in Austin, according to tax filings for his latest charity called The Foundation. 

The new institution, which received a gift of approximately $100 million from Musk, will begin with a STEM-focused primary and secondary school. Once that’s up and running, it “intends ultimately to expand its operations to create a university dedicated to education at the highest levels,” according to an application to the Internal Revenue Service for tax-exempt status obtained by Bloomberg.

The university will recruit “experienced faculty” and provide a conventional syllabus “alongside hands-on learning experience including simulations, case studies, fabrication/design projects, and labs,” according to the application, which was filed in October 2022 and approved in March. It will aim for accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

This isn’t Musk’s first “rodeo” with starting a school or expressing interest in opening a university. Around ten years ago, the Tesla Inc. co-founder created Ad Astra on SpaceX’s California campus for his five children and some of the children of his space company’s employees. When Musk relocated to Texas in 2020, the school was relocated as well.

Home to the University of Texas’ main campus, Austin has become a cradle of higher-education innovation. The University of Austin, started two years ago as an alternative to the “illiberalism” of traditional US colleges, intends to open in the fall with a class of 100 students initially. The school, supported by distinguished figures in education and finance, including the historian Niall Ferguson, former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers and venture capitalist Joe Lonsdale, has raised roughly $200 million in private donations.

Musk’s new STEM school was initially anticipating a class of 50 students to begin with and looking to hire an executive director, teacher, and administrator, according to the application.

The Foundation’s trustees include Jared Birchall, head of Musk’s family office; Steven Chidester, a tax attorney at Withersworldwide; and Ronald Gong and Teresa Holland, who work at Catalyst Family Office in California.

Elon sent $2.2 billion worth of Tesla stock to his Musk Foundation in 2022. Along with a sizable donation of nearly $100 million to seed his newest charity, it also gave gifts to disaster relief nonprofit World Central Kitchen, Khan Academy, and a donor-advised fund at Fidelity Charitable, according to its most recent tax forms.

Musk, the world’s richest person with a net worth of $220.8 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, is also creating his own town outside of Austin, with recreational facilities, a school plus subsidized housing for staff of Tesla, SpaceX, and the Boring Co., the Wall Street Journal reported in March. If approved, the district would cover thousands of acres he’s obtained in recent years. 

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