An Opportunity for Transformational Change

MacKenzie Scott’s one-time, unrestricted gift of $20 million to United Way of Greater Nashville


We are humbled by and so grateful to Ms. Scott for this gift, which we believe has the power to be transformational for our community. Our organization adopted a multi-step process to determine the best possible deployment of those funds. In 2021, we completed a comprehensive strategic planning process to help guide us through the creation of the investment plan. We began by holding focus groups and surveying community stakeholders, donors, nonprofit agencies and corporate donors for their input. This process allowed us to hear from a diverse audience that represents our community and to capture a broad picture of the most pressing issues. From there, we outlined clear goals and three priority areas of investment for the funds. For each priority, cross-functional teams will work with community leaders and experts to develop overarching strategies for creating lasting change in each area.


Three priority areas for the investment of Ms. Scott’s gift clearly surfaced through the planning process:


High-quality, Affordable Child Care

Why It Matters
Our community is suffering from a crippling lack of affordable, high-quality child care, especially for our lower income residents. The pandemic showed our community that high quality, affordable and accessible child care is an essential service, and we need an appropriately compensated and highly trained early education workforce to sustain it. This service is not only essential for setting our children up for future educational success but is crucial to our families’ abilities to remain in the workforce and be financially self-sufficient and stable.

Raise Your Hand students

Early Literacy and Grade-Level Reading

Why It Matters
Our community is seeing an increasingly alarming literacy crisis among our youngest learners. Just 22 percent of Metro Nashville Public School students are reading at grade level by the end of third grade, a crisis only exacerbated by the pandemic. Third grade is the turning point when children go from learning to read to reading to learn and is a key indicator for educational and lifelong success. If children aren’t reading on grade-level by that point, they will likely struggle in other subjects and will continue to fall behind. Our children’s’ success is the greatest investment we can make in our community. A significant investment of Ms. Scott’s gift into the Blueprint for Early Childhood Success, Nashville’s citywide effort to tackle our early literacy crisis, will be key to increasing third grade reading proficiency by ensuring high quality learning environments from birth through third grade, addressing out-of-school-time progress and connecting children and families to literacy resources.


Workforce Development

Why It Matters
Our economy is thriving but, with it, comes an urgent need for workforce infrastructure, training and support. To move out of poverty, people need higher paying jobs with opportunities for growth. Greater Nashville continues to attract national and regional corporate headquarters. But often, our residents lack the skills and credentials needed to compete and participate in our thriving job market. To land these jobs, people need the right post-secondary education, training or certification. That’s the key to increasing wages and stabilizing housing in our community. Our investment in workforce development will help individuals receive the education and training they need to obtain a livable wage that will set them on the path toward a stable, financially secure future. We will work with nonprofits, community and technical colleges and the business community to upskill workers and build pipelines of employment with an emphasis on those coming from disenfranchised communities.

How We’ll Make A Difference

Smart, Strategic Investments
As we approach this work, we will do so with a keen eye for ensuring these investments are used carefully and strategically, with a focus on our most under-resourced and underserved neighbors. We will choose partners and make allocations that will provide the most positive return on our investment, ensuring that these investments are not just meeting short-term, immediate needs but are helping build foundations for long-lasting and meaningful change for the individuals and families who are most underserved in our community.

Learn more about how we’re moving forward with this work.