Goodwill Fort Worth receives $10M from philanthropist MacKenzie Scott

Goodwill Industries of Fort Worth has received a $10 million gift from writer and philanthropist MacKenzie Scott, the ex-wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, the largest private donation from an individual in the organization’s 70-year history.

The gift will allow Goodwill Fort Worth to expand programs and services to the North Central Texas community, at a time when the need for Goodwill’s services has never been greater. This donation from Scott is part of the $4.1 billion that she has donated over the past four months to 384 organizations across the county, Goodwill said in the announcement.

“This gift is a remarkable demonstration of support for the mission of Goodwill Fort Worth,” says David Cox, President & CEO. “Since 1949, Goodwill Industries of Fort Worth has empowered people with disabilities or disadvantages so that they might reach their maximum independence.

“This gift will enhance our capacity to provide services to the most vulnerable populations and will undoubtedly impact the lives of countless thousands of individuals over the coming years. We are profoundly grateful to MacKenzie Scott for this gift, which will be truly transformational for our organization and the communities we serve,” Cox said.

Scott, philanthropist, author and former wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, on Dec. 15 announced that she has given away $4.1 billion in the past four months to hundreds of organizations as part of a giving pledge she announced last year.

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Scott announced her pandemic-era philanthropy in a Medium post, The Seattle Times reported. She described the coronavirus pandemic as “a wrecking ball in the lives of Americans already struggling,” and noted is has been worse for women, people of color and those living in poverty.

“Meanwhile,” she wrote, “it has substantially increased the wealth of billionaires.”

After donating $1.68 billion to 116 nonprofits, universities, community development groups and legal organizations last July, Scott asked a team of advisers to help her “accelerate” her 2020 giving with immediate help to those financially gutted by the pandemic.

She said the team used a data-driven approach, identifying organizations with strong leadership and results, specifically in communities with high food insecurity, racial inequity and poverty rates, “and low access to philanthropic capital.”

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Scott and her team started with 6,490 organizations, researched 822 and put 438 “on hold for now,” waiting for more details about their impact, management and how they treat employees or community members.

In total, 384 organizations in 50 states, Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C., will share $4,158,500,000 in gifts, including food banks, emergency relief funds “and support services for those most vulnerable.” Other organizations address “long-term systemic inequities that have been deepened by the crisis,” such as debt relief, employment training, credit and financial services for under-resourced communities and education for historically marginalized and underserved people. The money will also support legal defense funds “that take on institutional discrimination.”

In recent years, Goodwill Industries of Fort Worth has aggressively expanded its service offerings to marginalized populations in its service area including people with disabilities, people experiencing homelessness, the formerly incarcerated, at-risk youth and veterans.

Goodwill Fort Worth’s 20 programs offer holistic services to provide a hand up to clients in need. Last year, Goodwill Fort Worth served 9,355 people in North Central Texas and this year has launched a number of virtual, online services to assist those affected by the pandemic.

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“Program expansion, new program piloting and expansion of our training facilities are now possible because of this gift. This gift will help so many people through the ‘power of work’ provided by Goodwill,” said Cox. “We are so incredibly thankful.”

Additional reporting by the Associated Press