MacKenzie Scott donates $25M to United Way Chicago

ByABC 7 Chicago Digital Team WLS logo
Wednesday, December 16, 2020
MacKenzie Scott donates $25M to United Way Chicago
A Chicago charity will benefit from a major new donation.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- MacKenzie Scott has donated a record amount to United Way of Chicago.

The philanthropist, and former wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, donated $25 million to the organization. That is the single largest donation in the organization's history.

"This amazing investment from MacKenzie Scott speaks to the incredible work being done across our community," said Sean Garrett, President & CEO of United Way of Metro Chicago. "I can't thank her enough for believing in our commitment to invest in whole families and neighborhoods. With this gift, we can propel our work forward to build back a stronger, more equitable Chicago region for all our neighbors."

Scott has donated $4.1 billion over the past four months and is encouraging people to give to others in whatever way they can, whether it be time, or money.

Scott announced her pandemic-era philanthropy in a Medium post Tuesday, The Seattle Times reported. She described the coronavirus pandemic as "a wrecking ball in the lives of Americans already struggling," and noted is has been worse for women, people of color and those living in poverty.

"Meanwhile," she wrote, "it has substantially increased the wealth of billionaires."

After donating $1.68 billion to 116 nonprofits, universities, community development groups and legal organizations last July, Scott asked a team of advisers to help her "accelerate" her 2020 giving with immediate help to those financially gutted by the pandemic.

She said the team used a data-driven approach, identifying organizations with strong leadership and results, specifically in communities with high food insecurity, racial inequity 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," waiting for more details about their impact, management and how they treat employees or community members.

In total, 384 organizations in 50 states, Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C., will share $4,158,500,000 in gifts, including food banks, emergency relief funds "and support services for those most vulnerable." Other organizations address "long-term systemic inequities that have been deepened by the crisis," such as debt relief, employment training, credit and financial services for under-resourced communities and education for historically marginalized and underserved people. The money will also support legal defense funds "that take on institutional discrimination."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.