Tampa Bay’s Girl Scouts receive $2 million MacKenzie Scott gift

Billionaire philanthropist MacKenzie Scott has picked her next Tampa Bay charity to receive a multimillion-dollar gift: The Girl Scouts of West Central Florida.

The organization on Tuesday announced a $2 million donation from Scott, the former wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. The gift is one of 29 awarded to local Girl Scout councils nationwide, part of an $84.5 million donation in all — the largest gift from a single individual in the organization’s history.

For Girl Scouts of West Central Florida, it’s the largest gift on record, CEO Mary Pat King said. It effectively doubles the amount of funding raised by the group in the past year.

“This call from MacKenzie Scott, from her team, it’s a dream come true for any nonprofit CEO,” King said. “When it happened, I got off the phone, and I couldn’t help but think, ‘Wow, we lived up to our Girl Scout motto: we’re prepared.’ I’m so proud that when the call came, we were so prepared with a plan, and we were ready to move forward and accelerate our future.”

The regional scout council will use the gift to “eliminate boundaries,” King said, and expand its volunteer and leadership training initiatives across its eight-county footprint, which stretches from Pinellas to Polk to Marion counties. The group this year announced a goal of 30,000 members by 2030. The group will hire a public relations firm to advance recruitment to reach that goal.

Scott’s gift also included a $15 million donation to Girl Scouts of the USA, the group’s national body.

“We are so appreciative of MacKenzie Scott’s gift to Girl Scouts,” Girl Scouts of the USA CEO Sofia Chang said in a statement. “This is a great accelerator for our ongoing efforts to help girls cultivate the skills and connections to lead in their own communities and globally. The support from all our donors, including this generous support from Ms. Scott, is critical in delivering on our work of reimagination and transformation.”

Scott has made her presence felt in Tampa Bay with tens of millions of dollars in donations to various organizations.

In August, Scott gave Friends of the Children-Tampa Bay $1.1 million, its largest single donation ever. She’s donated $20 million for United Way Suncoast, $18.5 million to local chapters of Habitat for Humanity, $10 million to Goodwill Manasota, and millions more. In May, she gave $123 million to Tampa-based Big Brothers Big Sisters, along with regional chapters of that group.