YMCA of Northern Utah receive ‘transformational gift’ from Mackenzie Scott

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Jeff Bezos, MacKenzie Bezos

FILE – In this March 4, 2018 file photo, then-MacKenzie Bezos arrives at the Vanity Fair Oscar Party in Beverly Hills, Calif. A donation from author and philanthropist MacKenzie Scott to Virginia State University has become the largest single donor gift in the historically Black college’s history. The $30 million donation by Scott was announced Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2020, in a post that detailed the nearly $4.2 billion in gifts given to nonprofit organizations by the philanthropist in 2020. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File)

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – The YMCA of Northern Utah is receiving “a transformational gift” from the ex-wife of the world’s wealthiest man.

According to a Thursday press release, the YMCA of Northern Utah is one of 383 other nonprofits in the US – and the only in Utah – to be selected for a major gift from national philanthropist Mackenzie Scott.

“We are incredibly humbled by Ms. Scott’s investment in our community,” says YMCA of Northern Utah CEO, Richard West. “This gift, combined with the local support from our community partners and donors, and along with the continued work of our staff and volunteers will allow our YMCA to make critical investments right back into the community we serve now.”

The YMCA plans to use the gift to “think big picture and plan strategically so that our community experiences lasting impact.”

“The work that the YMCA of Northern Utah is doing to provide equitable access to programs for all, train our staff and board on the dimensions of diversity, and meet the growing community needs are exactly why we were chosen,” West continues. “The work doesn’t start or stop here. Now, it gets to continue in ways that we never thought possible.”

Scott previously announced that she has given away $4.1 billion in the past four months to hundreds of organizations as part of a giving pledge she announced last year.

She described the coronavirus pandemic as “a wrecking ball in the lives of Americans already struggling,” and noted it has been worse for women, people of color, and those living in poverty.

“Meanwhile,” she says, “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.

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