MacKenzie Scott announces recipients of $1.67 billion in grants

MacKenzie Scott announces recipients of $1.67 billion in grants

MacKenzie Scott (formerly Bezos) has announced the recipients of $1.67 billion in grants awarded since she signed the Giving Pledge fourteen months ago. 

In a blog post, Scott — whose divorce from Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos reportedly left her with Amazon stock valued at more than $35 billion and who tweeted on Tuesday that she would begin using her middle name as her last name — wrote that she had been working with nonprofit advisors from historically marginalized race, gender, and sexual identity groups to help identify and evaluate potential grantees. To date, Scott has committed $586.7 million in support of efforts to advance racial equity; $46 million to advance LGBTQ+ equity; $133 million to advance gender equity; $399.5 million to improve economic mobility in the United States; $55 million to help build empathy and bridge divides; $72 million in support of efforts to create a "functional democracy"; $128.3 million for public health initiatives; $130 million in support of global development; and $125 million to address climate change.

While Scott's participation in funder collaboratives and initiatives such as Blue Meridian Partners and the Equality Can't Wait Challenge has been noted previously, she had not announced details of her giving. "Though this work is ongoing and will last for years," she wrote, "I'm posting an update today because my own reflection after recent events revealed a dividend of privilege I'd been overlooking: the attention I can call to organizations and leaders driving change."  

Grant recipients include Howard University, which announced that it received a $40 million — the largest gift in the school's history — from Scott, a former student of alumna Toni Morrison. The university will use the funds to meet needs in four areas, including campus infrastructure improvement projects, a new faculty development plan, a program focused on social innovation and entrepreneurship, and one of its signature retention programs, the Graduation & Retention Access to Continued Excellence (GRACE) Grant. 

Other recipients include the Advancement ProjectAmerican Indian Graduate Center, Co-ImpactGrantmakers for Girls of ColorGroundswell Fund, LatinoJustice, Movement for Black LivesNarrative4Point Foundation, PolicyLink, RAINN, Spelman College, and UnidosUS. Scott noted that all were awarded general operating support grants but did not disclose individual grant amounts. 

"We are so grateful for MacKenzie Bezos' support of our work to empower LGBTQ students and springboard a new generation of LGBTQ leaders toward success," said Jorge Valencia, executive director and CEO of the Point Foundation, the nation's largest LGBTQ scholarship fund. "Bezos' support comes at a critical moment as we broaden and deepen our efforts to support LGBTQ students who are Black, Indigenous, and people of color and LGBTQ students who are grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic. Since colleges and universities began shuttering their campuses, our students have faced incredible challenges, from losing safe housing after campus closures to losing jobs and income. We know that LGBTQ young people are powerful and resilient, and Bezos' gift will allow us to help more LGBTQ young people pursue higher education and achieve their full potential as leaders in our society." 

"116 organizations driving change." MacKenzie Scott blog post 07/28/2020. "MacKenzie Bezos Makes Major Gift to Point Foundation & LGBTQ Youth." Point Foundation press release 07/28/2020. "Howard University receives transformative gift from philanthropist MacKenzie Scott." Howard University press release 07/28/2020.