Billionaire philanthropist and novelist MacKenzie Scott has pledged to donate a record $50 million to the National 4-H Council, the youth development organization announced today. It’s the largest single gift in the group's 120-year history.
“National 4-H Council is grateful to MacKenzie Scott and her husband, Dan Jewett, for their belief in Cooperative Extension’s 4-H program and its life-changing outcome for youth,” said Jennifer Sirangelo, president and CEO of the National 4-H Council. “Their generosity will sustain 4-H’s commitment to ensuring that all young people – regardless of their background or beliefs – are empowered with the skills to lead for a lifetime.”
Scott was previously married to Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. When they divorced in 2019 after 25 years of marriage, she received 4% of Amazon’s shares as part of their divorce settlement. Shortly after the divorce was finalized, she signed the Giving Pledge, created for billionaires who pledge to donate most of their fortunes to philanthropy and subsequently, and made donations at a fairly rapid pace.
Since that time, she’s donated billions of dollars to a wide variety of non-profit organizations dealing with at-risk children, mental health, reproductive rights and more. In many cases, as with National 4-H, she has left it up to each respective organization to announce the gift, or not.
In a blog post last summer, she noted that she wanted to “de-emphasize privileged voices and cede focus to others” and said “putting large donors at the center of stories on social progress is a distortion of their role.” However, in a December post, she pledged to create a searchable database of gifts and provide more information about the selection process.
The donation to 4-H is unrestricted and the Council has not yet decided how to best allocate the funds.
With nearly six million members, 4-H is the youth development organization of the Cooperative Extension System and USDA and serves every county and parish in the U.S. through a network of 110 public universities and more than 3,000 local extension offices. On a global basis, the organization works with independent programs to serve one million youth in 50 counties.
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