MacKenzie Scott, author, philanthropist and ex-wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, announced Tuesday that she is gifting more than $4 billion to 384 nonprofit agencies across the United States. United Way of Greater Nashville was named among those recipients and will receive $20 million.
Scott made the announcement via a post on Medium on Dec. 15. The $4 billion will support a variety of areas, including food banks, emergency relief, education support and civil rights advocacy.
“We are so incredibly grateful to MacKenzie for this generous gift and are humbled by the trust she has shown in us to be good stewards of these funds,” said Brian Hassett, president and CEO of United Way of Greater Nashville. “This funding will allow us to not just continue to fulfill our mission but to expand and grow our work to make large, meaningful investments that, we believe, will create extraordinary, lasting change in the lives of our community members. Our hope is that this gift will serve as an inspiration to others to dig deep and make transformational donations so we can truly make Greater Nashville the strong, thriving region we all hope for, and a model for communities of the future.”
Our community has been hit hard this year by both a devastating tornado and the health and economic burdens of COVID-19. United Way of Greater Nashville’s fundraising campaign is projected to be down by as much as $5 million this year from the previous year. This huge drop in fundraising could have meant devastating cuts to the more than 100 nonprofit agencies that rely on United Way to continue operations. The area’s most underserved communities would have felt this hit the hardest.
“Thanks to Ms. Scott’s generous gift, we can fulfill our funding obligations without interruption,” Hassett said.
That means that neighbors who need the most support—communities of color, seniors, underserved public school students, New Americans, families experiencing homelessness and those living in poverty—will receive the services and assistance they need to not just survive, but to thrive.
United Way of Greater Nashville’s board of directors and leadership teams are working quickly to create a comprehensive strategy to invest these funds and ensure that every person in our community has an equal chance at a bright future. UWGN will seek input from a diverse group of representatives throughout the nonprofit, business and government sectors. The unrestricted gift is to be used over the next three years.
To align with Scott’s philanthropic interests, a specific focus will be given to fighting inequities among historically marginalized groups and to improving the stability and health of our most underserved neighbors.
“This is so much more than a donation. This is an opportunity to dream big and think outside the box,” said Jenneen Kaufman, United Way’s chair of the board of trustees and chief financial officer of the Tennessee Titans. “We are so excited about the opportunity this generous gift will provide for us to make smart, strategic investments that have the potential to truly change the trajectory of our community—to improve the outcomes for thousands of families across our region. This is a gift of hope, which is something all desperately need right now.”
UWGN was one of 46 local United Ways across the country named as a recipient of funding from Scott. Scott’s full announcement and recipient list can be viewed here.