‘Is This a Joke?!’ Mass. Nonprofits Get Part of Scott’s $2.7B Mega-Donation


One of the world’s richest people recently gave away nearly $3 billion to historically overlooked and underfunded organizations across the country — including to 10 in Massachusetts.

The windfall sounded absurd to many of them off the bat.

“Our first reaction was, is this a joke?!” ZUMiX program manager Corey DePina said.

“I think everybody’s jaw dropped,” said Lily Mendez, president of Mass Mentoring Partnership.

“I heard about this money about three weeks ago through an email that felt familiarly like it could be a scam,” Mentor CEO David Shapiro said.

It wasn’t a scam, it was the latest round of philanthropic donations from MacKenzie Scott, the ex-wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.

She gave $2.7 billion to 286 organizations. To date, Scott and her current husband, Dan Jewett, have donated roughly $9 billion to organizations that support higher education, arts and culture, with a focus on poverty and racial equity.

“This is a tremendous boost to Hyde Square Task Force and the work that we’re doing, in recognition that our focus on Afro-Latin arts and focusing on young people,” said its executive director, Celina Miranda.

The funding will help deepen the work of smaller nonprofits like the Hyde Square Task Force while sustaining larger organizations like Mentor. It supports smaller affiliates, like Mass Mentoring Partnership.

“In turn, it’s like a force multiplier. We get to take this information and pass it down to all of our local partners, the youth-serving organizations, the mentoring organizations,” Mendez said.

And for groups like GreenLight Fund that connect social innovation with community need, it will widen their reach.

“It’s going to have many ripple effects for our work, certainly in Boston, but also nationally,” GreenLight Fund CEO and co-founder Margaret Hall said.

These groups say the best part about these donations is MacKenzie Scott trusted them to know where and how to spend the money, so there are no strings attached.


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