SEATTLE (AP / KXAN) – MacKenzie Scott, philanthropist, author, and former wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, has announced that it has donated $ 4.1 billion to hundreds in the past four months as part of a pledge announced last year gave away by organizations.
Scott announced her pandemic-time philanthropy in a medium post on Tuesday. Describing the coronavirus pandemic as “a wrecking ball in the lives of Americans who already have problems”, she noted that it was worse for women, people of color and people living in poverty.
“Now,” she wrote, “it has greatly increased the wealth of billionaires.”
At least two local charities will receive 384 recipients to receive part of Scott’s second largest philanthropic fundraising initiative of the year. Meals on Wheels Central Texas and the Greater Austin YWCA received donations from the 18th richest person in the world.
Meals on Wheels Central Texas received $ 8 million from Scott and the YWCA received $ 1 million.
In a press release, Meals on Wheels Central Texas CEO and President Adam Hauser called the donation “transformative.” Hauser said his program recently tried to keep up with the 160% increase in demand.
“It will allow us to feed hungrier central Texas seniors and provide other services to ensure they are remembered and age with dignity and independence, while saving taxpayers money in the process,” Hauser said. “We are humble for Ms. Scott’s generosity and deeply grateful for the trust she has shown in our agency and for the work we are doing.”
The Austin-Round Rock area has the second fastest growing senior population in the country. As the population grows, so does the need for life support services such as Meals on Wheels Central Texas. This is especially true during the pandemic.
Since the stay at home orders went into effect in April 2020, volunteers have delivered over 640,000 meals. Because the grant is a one-time grant, it is viewed as a long-term investment in various programs and services that go beyond the budget of just one year.
Greater Austin YWCA said his donation from Scott will help deepen the work of YWCA Austin’s Counseling and Referral Center, Nursing Coordination Program, and Volunteer & Training Institute to “help underrepresented communities across central Texas in the mental health field To serve health and care coordination ”. They said in a press release.
The YWCA dates back to 1907. It played a role during the civil rights era – it participated in the desegregation efforts – and continues to advocate racial justice today. For the past several years, YWCA Greater Austin has worked to bridge the gap between mental health and racial justice.
“At a time when COVID-19 has disproportionately affected low-income color communities, YWCA Greater Austin is committed to providing mental health services to people who grieve for loved ones, job loss, anxiety, depression, and the effects of social distance on individuals “Said Naya Diaz, general manager of YWCA Greater Austin.
Diaz says this is the largest donation her organization has ever seen.
“In terms of our budget, the gift equals one year of our annual budget. However, this gift will enable the work of YWCA for years to come and have a long-term impact on the Central Texans, ”said Diaz.
Scott’s philanthropic background
After donating $ 1.68 billion to 116 nonprofits, universities, community development groups, and legal organizations last July, Scott asked a team of advisors to help her “accelerate” her 2020 offering with immediate assistance to those who received financial relief from the pandemic.
She said the team used a data-driven approach to identify organizations with strong leadership and strong results, particularly in communities with high food insecurity, racial inequality and poverty rates, and “low access to philanthropic capital.”
Scott and her team started with 6,490 organizations, researched 822, and put 438 “on hold for now” pending further details on their impact, management, and interaction with employees or community members.
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A total of 384 organizations in 50 states, Puerto Rico and Washington, DC, will be sharing $ 4,158,500,000 gifts, including food banks, emergency funds, and support services for the most vulnerable. Other organizations address “long-term systemic inequalities exacerbated by the crisis,” such as debt relief, employment training, credit and financial services for underserved communities, and education for historically marginalized and underserved people. The money will also support legal protection funds “that accept institutional discrimination”.
Washington-based government organization Craft3, a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) focused on investing in businesses owned by colored people, including black and indigenous owners, received $ 10 million. It is one of several national CDFIs to receive an investment from Scott.
“We are incredibly honored to be recognized for this unparalleled gift. Community Development Financial Institutions are the front line of inclusive, equitable finance in the US, “said Adam Zimmerman, President and CEO of Craft3, in a statement.
Scott noted that she was “far from fulfilling her promise,” and urged others to follow her example in any way possible: time, voice, or money.