United Way of the Capital Region nets $5M donation from Bezos’ ex-wife



ALBANY — Talk about a holiday boost.

United Way of the Capital Region has received a $5 million donation from MacKenzie Scott, the ex-wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos who has pledged to give away much of her $4.2 billion fortune to charitable organizations.

Scott announced the donation on Tuesday in a lengthy list of 384 organizations nationwide who will receive funding.

“It’s the biggest gift in the history of our organization,” said Peter Gannon, president and CEO. “It’s transformative for us to do the hard work that our team is doing every day.”

While the non-profit hasn’t determined exactly how the funds will be used, a key goal is addressing affordable housing issues and aiding the non-profits who have been on the frontlines during the COVID-19 pandemic and are now struggling.

“That pain lingers and their ability to function and their ability to provide a safety net in this crisis is frayed right now,” Gannon said.

It’s a viewpoint shared by Scott, who said not only are non-profits chronically underfunded, they are also “chronically diverted” from their work by fundraising, “and by burdensome reporting requirements that donors often place on them.”

Scott also highlighted how the COVID pandemic has disproportionately impacted people of color.

“This pandemic has been a wrecking ball in the lives of Americans already struggling,” Scott wrote in a Medium post. “Economic losses and health outcomes alike have been worse for women, for people of color, and for people living in poverty. Meanwhile, it has substantially increased the wealth of billionaires.”

The donation roughly equals an entire year’s operating budget for United Way of the Capital Region, which typically clocks in at $4.8 million.

“This is clearly a huge influx of resources,” Gannon said.

Scott previously donated $1.7 billion to 116 organizations in July.

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