Philanthropist MacKenzie Scott donated $84.5 million to Girl Scouts of the USA and 29 of its local chapters, the 110-year-old organization said Tuesday, calling it a vote of confidence.
Scott, who is worth a staggering $31.6 billion since her divorce from Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, recently went through another divorce with her science teacher beau Dan Jewett.
She is ranked by Bloomberg’s real-time billionaire index as the 41st richest person in the world, but consistently donates portions of her fortune to charities and has donated at least $12.8 billion to charities since 2020.
It’s the largest donation the Girl Scouts have received from a person since their inception in 1912, she said.
Mackenzie Scott recently donated a staggering $86.5 million to Girl Scouts USA, the latest in her philanthropic spending
Sofia Chang, CEO of Girl Scouts USA, said: ‘Her support for our organization honestly means as much as the donation’
The Girl Scouts’ youth membership dropped dramatically during the pandemic, by nearly 30% – and the donation will help the organization get back to previous membership rates
The funds will help the organization recover from the impact of the pandemic, which has reduced membership.
“Her support for our organization honestly means as much as the donation,” said Sofia Chang, CEO of Girl Scouts USA, in an interview.
Her generous donation comes after she filed for divorce from Jewett a month ago, less than two years after the marriage and philanthropic partnership began.
Scott and Jewett, 47, were rarely seen together and he quietly resigned from his teaching job at a private high school in Washington last year, saying he didn’t want to create a distraction there.
The split was revealed when Jewett’s name was removed from Scott’s page on the website for the Giving Pledge, an initiative that asks billionaires to give away at least half of their wealth during their lifetime.
The former couple had written together on the site last year about their intention to give away Scott’s fortune, which stemmed largely from her divorce from Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.
After her previous divorce from Bezos after 25 years of marriage, Scott became one of the richest women in the world, with a 4 percent stake in Amazon.
The Southern Arizona Girl Scout council decided to use the $1.4 million it received from Scott to improve the work they’re already doing rather than start a new program or initiative, CEO Kristen Garcia-Hernandez said.
Scott, seen here with Jewett, recently split from the physics teacher after they promised to donate much of her fortune together
Following her 2019 divorce from Jeff Bezos after 25 years of marriage, MacKenzie Scott became one of the richest women in the world, taking 4 percent of Amazon’s stock.
According to research, philanthropic donations to organizations that specifically serve women and girls represent less than 2% of all donations
‘We are a small municipality and certainly not in a metropolitan junction. So for us, gifts of this magnitude are rare,” Garcia-Hernandez said.
The gift accelerates their plan to hire more staff to reach most places in the seven counties they serve in less than an hour and provide year-round programming.
The municipality will also set up a van as a mobile science and technology classroom, a project they have been trying to finance for a year and a half.
Many local financiers seem to think the Girl Scout’s cookie sales are covering their costs, she said.
“While the cookie program definitely supports us and it’s great and the girls are part of that process, which makes it even more beautiful, we definitely need more from the community,” Garcia-Hernandez said.
According to research, philanthropic donations to organizations that specifically serve women and girls represent less than 2% of all donations.
It found that the proportion did not change significantly between 2012 and 2019, the years the study followed.
Tessa Skidmore, a research associate at the institute, said large donations from women like philanthropists Melinda French Gates, Sheryl Sandberg and Scott could inspire other donors.
“Those are the kinds of things that have the potential to change that number,” she said.
The institute partnered with Pivotal Ventures, the investment company founded by French Gates and others to promote giving to women and girls on International Girl’s Day, celebrated on October 11 each year.
It also shares its donation data in hopes that donors or researchers will use it as a way to evaluate gender equality in donations.
Scott doesn’t often communicate about her donations, which have totaled about $12 billion since 2019.
While many people often think cookie sales are funding the Girl Scouts, local troop leaders have said the organization needs more outside investment to survive.
She has donated large, unrestricted grants to many different types of organizations, although her donations have had a special focus on racial equality.
Scott also donated a $275 million blockbuster to the Planned Parenthood Federation of America and its subsidiaries this year.
The Girl Scouts’ youth membership dropped dramatically during the pandemic, dropping nearly 30% from about 1.4 million in 2019-2020 to just over 1 million in 2021-2022.
Chang acknowledged the decline, but claimed the organization’s programs consistently help girls build trust and address problems in their communities.
“Our traditional way of supporting girls was really turned upside down during the pandemic because troops couldn’t really meet in person,” Chang said.
“So to build back stronger than ever before, we’re really listening to our Girl Scouts, listening to their families and our volunteers to really make sure that what comes next for us has a real impact right now.”
The Girl Scouts plan to support volunteers and staff, make camp sites more resilient to the effects of climate change, improve science and technology education for youth members, and develop diversity and inclusion programs to make their troops more accessible.