MacKenzie Scott donated another $2.74 billion, highlighted the inequitable system

Axel Springer Award 2018 in Berlin
For all the stunts Jeff Bezos is pulling – the space race, getting a yacht for his yacht, making sure his workers can’t unionize, his ex wife, MacKenzie Scott, is working hard to effect change. MacKenzie made headlines last year when she donated over $6 billion to charity in two rounds of giving. Her donations were some of the largest ever received by organizations including Historically Black Colleges and Universities, small YMCAs and local food banks. Recipients were given the money with no stipulations as to how it was spent, which is rare and so appreciated.

MacKenzie gave away the money with the help of a team of advisors. She recently posted about the fact that she’s dispersed $2.74 billion more to 286 organizations, however she and her team don’t want to be the center of the story. She wants the fact that wealth is concentrated at the top and that the system is inequitable to be the focus. She wants us to notice and help people and organizations like the ones she’s chosen. She made sure to donate to underserved communities where she could make the most difference. Here’s part of what she wrote, with more at the source.

People struggling against inequities deserve center stage in stories about change they are creating. This is equally — perhaps especially — true when their work is funded by wealth. Any wealth is a product of a collective effort that included them. The social structures that inflate wealth present obstacles to them. And despite those obstacles, they are providing solutions that benefit us all.

Putting large donors at the center of stories on social progress is a distortion of their role. Me, Dan, a constellation of researchers and administrators and advisors — we are all attempting to give away a fortune that was enabled by systems in need of change. In this effort, we are governed by a humbling belief that it would be better if disproportionate wealth were not concentrated in a small number of hands, and that the solutions are best designed and implemented by others. Though we still have a lot to learn about how to act on these beliefs without contradicting and subverting them, we can begin by acknowledging that people working to build power from within communities are the agents of change. Their service supports and empowers people who go on to support and empower others.

Because community-centered service is such a powerful catalyst and multiplier, we spent the first quarter of 2021 identifying and evaluating equity-oriented non-profit teams working in areas that have been neglected. The result was $2,739,000,000 in gifts to 286 high-impact organizations in categories and communities that have been historically underfunded and overlooked.

[From Medium]

MacKenzie went on to detail the research process that her team used find these organizations, which she lists with links at the end. She’s such an impressive, lovely person. I wish more people from all walks of life were like her, including myself.

Update: An earlier version of this story featured an excerpt from an older round of giving by MacKenzie. We are sorry for the error.

Here’s MacKenzie with her new husband, a Seattle science teacher who works at her sons’ school.


Related stories

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

63 Responses to “MacKenzie Scott donated another $2.74 billion, highlighted the inequitable system”

Comments are Closed

We close comments on older posts to fight comment spam.

  1. SusanRagain says:

    I am starting to be a big, big fan of her! Wonderful. 😀

  2. local russian hill says:

    wow amazing and impressive. of course it takes a female to be so insightful and compassionate. male billionaires, take note and start donating and effecting real change.

  3. Tulipworthy says:

    She is awesome.

  4. Kitty says:

    That’s amazing! Doing great things with her money. I respect that!

  5. TQ says:

    Absolutely wonderful. As I said in a previous post about her giving, it’s madness wealth is concentrated in the hands of so few. But she is trying to do real good by giving hers away to so many deserving organizations, many of which are often overlooked. Way to go MacKenzie!

  6. AnnaC says:

    That she hasn’t put restrictions on how the funds are used is pretty amazing. I did development for a well known (well funded) national youth organization at the national level and for a local branch. So many grants/donations are tied to specific programs and many stipulate that you can use the bare minimum, or nothing, towards general operating expenses. Though I do wish she would implement some sort of reporting, nothing onerous, but it holds the organizations accountable and shows the impact of the funds. I’m also curious if they will be one time donations to these organizations or has made them recurring over a period of years.

    • AnneSurely says:

      It’s actually pretty crappy. She gave a non profit in my community an enormous sum (multi, multi millions) that would have made a huge difference in wages for the severely underpaid staff and a gigantic windfall for their programs that help people experiencing homelessness, food insecurity, and dv. The (white, male) executive director and equally white and wealthy board used it to buy a giant glossy building downtown to use and rent out to other nonprofits. Like, to become landlord. And her process to decide who gets the money focuses on organizations with solid, organized infrastructures, which sounds really great on its face, but typically the nonprofits who meet this criteria already have huge funding bases and national umbrellas supporting them. The small community non profits run by volunteers who do the most important and impactful work are most often left out bc they’re run by volunteer boards, with volunteer bookkeepers and skeleton staffs. I was disgusted when I found out.

      • sunny says:

        That’s terrible AnneSurely but I still think the lack of strings is typically a good thing. Even large NPOs struggle to allocate funds to GOS specifically because funders tie their support to KPIs and specific program metrics so giving organizations control of the money is a great thing if the organization is well run.

        In the case of smaller organizations, i wonder how much vetting was done with each one beyond mission and mandate because examining the volunteer base, structure of the board, and track record would have been really helpful in determining how to disburse the funds.

      • Me says:

        Sounds like there may be a problem with your organization regarding fidelity to its charitable purpose. If you believe the Executive Director and Board are not behaving in accordance with their duties to the organization, I suggest you make a complaint to the Charities Bureau of your state AG and the IRS.

    • GRUEY says:

      @annac I used to work at an org that runs a lot of donor advised funds and it made me sick. The amount coddling and work an org had to for one 30k grant my god. 15 meetings with the Director, hours of time, changes to an org’s entire mission and plan for a one year, piddling trifle. Then the next year they’d do it to a totally different org to maximize their “impact.” Looking at the philanthropic sector vs the way someone like the Koch’s spend is a major reason progressives are losing.

      It’s beautiful to see her just completely saying fuck all that and just giving grassroots organizations the damn money.

  7. Lauren says:

    MacKenzie was too good for Bezos. His loss is the world’s gain.

    • (TheOG) Jan90067 says:

      Exactly my thoughts, too, Lauren!

      I’m so glad she’s found joy. In the pic with her new hubs they both just *radiate* happiness!

      Ok, Melinda Gates… the ball’s in YOUR court…what’re YOU going to do with your billions?

      • Malificent says:

        I’m thoroughly enjoying watching MacKenzie live her best life. And the fact that she’s helping so many others towards their best lives is icing on the cake.

      • Pix says:

        Yes, she and her new husband are positively glowing with happiness.

    • Poisonella says:

      She won the divorce! A genuinely good person prevailed and found happiness!

  8. Amy T says:

    Her ex can’t think of how to spend his money on earth because there’s so much of it, so he’s going to space…..I can’t help but wonder if the world wouldn’t be better served if he decided to stay there.

    Meanwhile, this, a story titled “The Amazon You Don’t See” co-written by Jodi Kantor (one of the reporters whose work helped bring down Harvey Weinstein):

    • Amy T says:

      I can’t believe I forgot to put it in writing, but I did. What I fully meant was – she’s a mensch of the first order and he’s a tool. #teammackenzie.

  9. Erin says:

    I really can’t imagine where she was at towards the end of their marriage. She probably felt she was married to a monster – look at what she did after. Married a science teacher and donated all this money. I wish her all the peace in the world. What a lovely woman

  10. Lala11_7 says:

    She gave millions to Kennedy-King Community College…a college in my Southside Chicago neighborhood that has been instrumental in providing quality education & opportunities to working class Black folks for DECADES!

    I LOVE that she’s funding EXISTING institutions with a history of being a viable part of the community and not building NEW institutions that end up becoming Hunger Game situations for folks… i.e. Bill Gates’ charter school in Chicago


    • Anna says:

      Wonderful to hear this @Lala11_7 So important to support the institutions we have here on the southside and usually get left out of the mix

  11. Lola says:

    What I love most about this is that she doesn’t make them jump through any stupid, degrading, time wasting hoops. She doesn’t even make anyone apply. She just GIVES them the money. Suddenly!

  12. K says:

    What a blessing.

  13. Snuffles says:

    I think what she’s doing is WONDERFUL. It should have never reached the point where a billionaire finally realized they don’t need all the money in the world and should redistribute the wealth – but here we are.

    The benefits and ripple effects on the organizations, communities and individuals it affects will be felt for decades to come. And I hope many are inspired to pay it forward.

    I hope once Melinda Gates resolves her divorce and gets her half in the billions, she’ll join Mackenzie Scott in giving the majority of it away.

  14. Amy Bee says:

    She’s doing a lot of good work and she can serve as an example to other billionaires including her ex husband.

  15. Wilma says:

    Best divorce ever.

  16. Truthiness says:

    ♥️♥️♥️ Not all heroes wear capes. Can she help save voting rights for those very same under-priviliged sectors? Sure, it is too much to ask when she is already doing a world of good. Turns out the best Bezos is the only one who is no longer a Bezos at all.

  17. sunny says:

    Love this approach to giving out funding as it allows NPOs to plan and to have control of their programs without forced KPIs and it allows organizations to allot funds to general operating support which is often really hard to do when funders put strict conditions in funding agreements which prevents NPOs from using funds to support their general mission and staff and can negatively impact on their abilities to actually deliver on programs.

    Good for her for doing this amazing work especially as her ex continues to profit from the tragedy of this pandemic. I am so happy she seems fulfilled and has found love again and real satisfaction in helping others.

    On another note, have we at all talked about how her new husband sort of resembles her ex?

  18. Moxylady says:

    While the male billionaires all want to look and act like Bruce Wayne minus the whole Batman helping the world charity efforts.
    (I personally hate Batman so the fact that they can’t even do the minimum Bruce Wayne does is really something).

  19. Renee says:

    This woman is a national treasure. I’m so glad she put cheating Jeff in her rearview mirror and showed what true class really looks like.

  20. samipup says:

    Mackenzie Scott Jewett is a perfect example why women should rule the world. She gives away her billions to help others while her cheating’ ex wants to take an 11 minute ride to outer space🪐.
    See Also *The Amazing RBG*.

  21. Teebee says:

    In light of the egregious wastefulness of Jeff Bezos and any of his like minded ilk, Mackenzie’s philanthropy and incredible thoughtfulness is an even more stark contrast. I hope that the organizations that benefited from her donations are just the tip of the iceberg. That her money resonates and multiplies in every way possible, within people, within businesses, within communities. Her supporting education is especially important. The more you open and embrace the mind today, the more future generations will continue the pursuit!

  22. Brielle says:

    She is the Best: that’s the kind of rich ppl that I like,contributing to make the world better not hoarding money

  23. readingissexy says:

    I am a professor, and she just donated the largest independent sum EVER to my majority-minority state university!!! Definitely a fan. We are a great school with wonderful students.

  24. Twinkle says:

    She understands the power she has and is doing great things with it. Her ex on the other hand is still a dbag.

  25. Zut Alors says:

    MacKenzie Scott is simply amazing. I was listening to CBS this morning as I was working, and when they talked about this, they lead with “Jeff Bezos’s ex-wife”. I was incensed. She has a name and is powerful in her own right. I was surprised a producer let this go through. How insulting of them to diminish her as someone’s ex and not even use her name!

    • Dierski says:

      It’s so gross that they still do that to (mostly) women: “So-and-so’s ex-wife/girlfriend”… Ugh. Even being a billionaire doesn’t exempt a woman from that categorization, apparently.

    • bettyrose says:

      That’s disgusting. As I mentioned below, I got an email announcement this morning that mentioned only Scott and her philanthropic work, with no reference to anything earlier in her life. As it should be.

  26. olliesmom says:

    She totally understands wealth hording and how her ex horded his wealth for all of those years. And he made that wealth on the backs of the masses. Release it to the masses where it belongs! She seems really happy and she’s living her best life now that she’s rid of her creep ex. I hope that he is just a little jealous and regrets his affair.

  27. Dierski says:

    Lovely to read about her and her impacts this morning, big and widespread, not perfect by any means, but a billionaire re-distributing their wealth easily and swiftly. So wonderful. Especially after reading the long/detailed NYT exposé yesterday morning about Amazon’s inner-workings and the experiences of its lowest-level employees… needless to say it made me feel ill to read. JBezos is the worst, and I’m glad she got out.

    Go, go, go Mackenzie!!!!

  28. BeanieBean says:

    Wow, I completely missed the news that she got remarried. Anyhoo, very impressive way to put her wealth to work.

  29. Lucy2 says:

    No one person should have that much concentrated wealth, but I’m sure glad in this case it’s a woman like her. The impacts of what she is doing will be felt in those institutions and communities for a long time.

  30. bettyrose says:

    Just before reading this, I got an email from my alma mater announcing a $40 million grant from Mackenzie Scott to support the university’s mission as an HSI and leader in diversity admissions. I especially loved that the announcement was focused solely on the purpose of the gift and how it would be used, with no mention *at all* of the A word (or the B word).

  31. observer says:

    while i can get behind the concept of billionaires giving their wealth away, that DOESN’T mitigate the moral dilemma of: who are these people to choose who are the haves and the have nots? did they spends years studying politics, ethics, philosophy? what are their actual morals? what, other than their (depending who you ask) unjustified amount of wealth, qualifies them to choose or influence the fate of humanity?

    • vivian says:

      This is of course the real truth of it all– America needs a reckoning with the criminal inequity in the distribution of wealth and power– The obscenely wealthy got even richer over the pandemic, the brunt of the tax burden is borne by wage earners in the form of income taxes, and all these other forms of wealth accumulation/redistribution upwards are lightly taxed if at all. Many of the wealthiest corporation pay no taxes. We have people who have more personal wealth than they could ever even imagine what to do with (including multiple yachts, houses, and space shots) who are then able to make choices that should be in the democratic public realm. Mackenzie might well agree with all I have said here—Now, I would like to see her (and others with huge ill-gotten gains) give her billions to efforts to change the systemic and tax inequities that create wealth like hers in the first place.

      • observer says:

        thanks vivian, you absolutely got what i was alluding to. also, you’re right that mackenzie *may* agree with your POV…but then just think about how low the bar is set when we are all out here praising mackenzie for taking such baby steps with this dynamic in place (i am not calling her a bad person, i’m just saying it’s very sad that we’re this easily impressed and speaks about the situation)

    • bettyrose says:

      I agree with every word. And yet even knowing I’m setting the bar a bit low for billionaires, I’m completely enamored of MacKenzie right now.

  32. Lowrider says:

    It crazy, Mackenzie has donated billions and has not seen any decrease in her personal wealth. Nuts.

    • Jaded says:

      A billionaire doesn’t just give everything away in one fell swoop. She’s has to do a fair bit of research, meet with the principals in each organization, develop a detailed plan of how money will be spent and create a board of directors to oversee the running of the day-to-day business. She will continue to create philanthropic opportunities to enrich many charities, schools, medical facilities, etc. but it doesn’t happen overnight.

      • Lola says:

        Actually in all of the articles I’ve read about it, it sounds like she didn’t do ANY of that. Part of what she believes is not making these groups jump through hoops because she sees it as a waste of their time. She just suddenly gives the money out of nowhere. There have been many interviews with these organizations where they suddenly get this money from her and they are SHOCKED.

  33. Jayna says:

    What an amazing woman.

  34. Anna says:

    I wish she would pay off my student loans…sigh…

  35. Lena says:

    She is amazing and I love her. That is all.