MacKenzie Scott donates $10 million to Columbus-based refugee school system

Fugees Academy has received a $10 million donation from billionaire philanthropist MacKenzie Scott — who helped her ex-husband, Jeff Bezos, build Amazon in its early days.
Fugees Academy has received a $10 million donation from billionaire philanthropist MacKenzie Scott — who helped her ex-husband, Jeff Bezos, build Amazon in its early days.

A nonprofit school system for refugee children headquartered in Columbus is receiving a $10 million donation from billionaire philanthropist MacKenzie Scott.

Fugees Family Inc. is the nation’s only educational justice nonprofit organization committed to serving refugees and immigrants. The group will expand its school model to 50 districts across the nation over the next five years with the money from Scott, the ex-wife of former Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, according to a news release.

“As thousands of new refugees seek safety among us, we must do more than parcel out sympathy and charity,” Fugees’ founder and CEO Luma Mufleh said in the release. “To the children among them, especially, we owe safe spaces to heal, to learn, and to grow.”

Columbus education: One-of-a-kind school gives refugees resettled in Columbus a sense of belonging

Mackenzie Scott
Mackenzie Scott

Fugees Academy helps refugee children feel a sense of belonging

Fugees Academy is a private, zero-tuition school for refugee children in sixth through 12th grades that has been headquartered in Columbus since 2018. It was originally founded in Atlanta in 2006, where it continues to maintain a campus for 180 students from more than 30 ethnic groups.

There are 58 students from as many as 10 ethnic groups at the Columbus site, located at Ohio Dominican University, which is where the school will be stationed through the end of the school year. Fugees is trying to secure a permanent location elsewhere in Columbus, Mufleh said.

The Columbus Fugees campus was previously housed inside St. Andrew Presbyterian Church on the Northeast Side.

Columbus education: Mackenzie Scott donation sends $2 million to Columbus dropout prevention organization

Fugees is funded by grants, individual donations and Ohio’s EdChoice voucher program. It provides specialized year-round education that uses soccer, education and community to empower refugee children to successfully integrate into the United States.

Another donation helping Columbus dropout prevention organization

This is not the first time Scott has made a big gift to a Columbus educational nonprofit group.

In February, Scott donated $133.5 million to Communities In Schools Network and National Office, a national student dropout prevention organization. The Columbus-based affiliate of Communities In Schools will receive $2 million of that money to expand its services to more students across the state.

Communities In Schools of Ohio serves 21,873 students in 34 schools across the state.

This article originally appeared on The Columbus Dispatch: Fugees Academy receives $10 million donation from Mackenzie Scott