MacKenzie Scott donates significant gift to three Boys & Girls Clubs in Mississippi

·4 min read

Writer and philanthropist MacKenzie Scott announced last week she has handed over $3.9 billion to hundreds of organizations in the previous nine months, funding areas such as climate and education and Ukraine relief efforts.

Of that, $281 million went to Boys & Girls Clubs throughout the nation. And some of that money went to three Boys & Girls Clubs in Mississippi.

MacKenzie Scott has donated to hundreds of organizations.
MacKenzie Scott has donated to hundreds of organizations.

The Boys & Girls Club of the Mississippi Delta, the Boys & Girls Club of the Golden Triangle, and the Boys & Girls Club of Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians were chosen.

No other Mississippi organizations were listed in Scott's donations.

Neither Scott nor the local Boys & Girls Clubs would disclose how much money was given to the organizations. According to multiple reports, however, many but not all of the gifts from Scott to other organizations represented a full-year budget.

Since pledging to give away most of her wealth in 2019, Scott has donated an estimated $12 billion to 1,257 nonprofit organizations.

"This gift recognizes the efforts of our club staff to serve their communities and each individual child in their clubs," said David Dallas, director of the Boys & Girls Club of the Mississippi Delta, headquartered in Greenwood. "The mission of our organization is to ensure all children, particularly those who need us most, are given the opportunity to be caring, productive and responsible citizens.

Scott's donation will make a massive difference to Dallas' organization. His Boys & Girls Club is a small budget organization with the largest geographic footprint of any Boys & Girls Club organization outside of Alaska.

Members of the Grenada Boys & Girls Club participate in outdoor activities.
Members of the Grenada Boys & Girls Club participate in outdoor activities.

"To reach more communities and do what we need to do, our budget should be four to five times higher," Dallas said. "That requires more support from the local level, including from local governments, businesses, churches and individuals. We are hoping this gift can leverage that support."

Scott said every organization she gave to was vetted thoroughly.

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"Each nonprofit was selected through a rigorous process and has a strong track record of serving under-served needs," Scott said. "If you are looking for a way to serve humanity's common cause, every one of them is a great candidate. Helping any of us can help us all."

Jim Clark, president, and CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of America, was grateful for Scott's donation.

"Thanks to this generous gift, Boys & Girls Clubs can continue to reach even more youth as we guide millions of kids and teens on their journeys to great futures," Clark said in a statement.

Homework help at the Greenwood Boys & Girls Club.
Homework help at the Greenwood Boys & Girls Club.

Dallas said these funds will help his group reach more children and build a better future for communities throughout the Delta and northwest Mississippi.

"A community is only as strong and healthy as the opportunities it provides for its children and families," Dallas said.

Scott, the ex-wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, donated $2.7 billion to 286 charities last year.

In July 2020, Scott announced in her blog she had given about $1.7 billion to 116 groups, including historically Black colleges and universities. In December that year, she handed an additional $4.2 billion to 384 diverse organizations.

Even after her multibillion-dollar donations, Forbes magazine estimates Scott's net worth at $48.8 billion.

Ron Thornton, the executive director of the Boys & Girls Club of the Golden Triangle, said he expects he will use the money in many ways. Still, he is most excited about purchasing new vehicles to be able to transport children in Starkville, Columbus and West Point.

"We are very grateful to receive the generous and significant gift from Mrs. Scott and her organization," Thornton said. "This allows us to challenge our communities to now give on a different level. This gives us a chance to make more of an impact than we already do on the everyday lives of kids and families in our area."

Despite the significant gift, Thornton said it doesn't mean that his organization no longer needs money and support from local sources, which have always supported them.

"It's just the opposite," Thornton said. "The nonprofit work that we do continues to exhaust our budgets and the nearly 1,500 kids that we serve."

The money provided by Scott and her organization to the Boys & Girls Clubs had no restrictions, meaning Thornton and Dallas and the chapter from the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians could put the money toward places that generally don't get attention.

In Thornton's case, that means forms of transportation, fixing leaky roofs and other maintenance projects.

"Some of our other funding sources, such as grants, have limits on where the money can be spent," Thornton said. "So, maybe the best gift of all is that there are no restrictions placed on how we can spend the money."

The Clarion-Ledger reached out to the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, but the organization did not respond.

This article originally appeared on Mississippi Clarion Ledger: Philanthropist MacKenzie Scott has donated nearly $4B in previous 9 months