The Boise-based Treasure Valley Family YMCA received a surprise donation this month from MacKenzie Scott. The author is the ex-wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, and the 21st-richest person in the world. On Tuesday, Scott announced she had given $4.1 billion to 384 different charities.
Scott’s philanthropy helped recipients in all 50 states, plus Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico. The Treasure Valley Family YMCA was the only Idaho charity listed in her announcement.
“It was really a jaw-dropping moment for me,” said Treasure Valley YMCA President and CEO David Duro. He recalled getting an email notification, and then a phone call from Scott’s advisory team informing him of the donation.
“To not have actively solicited, to not be expecting any dollars, it’s like a holiday miracle,” he said.
Duro declined to share the specific donation amount, but called it one of the largest in the Y’s history.
Food banks, the United Way, Tribal and historically black colleges comprised the majority of organizations on Scott’s charity list.
There were no strings attached to the donations. Duro says the funds came at a critical moment, and some of the money will be used immediately.
“With everything that we've experienced: the blow from the pandemic, the loss that we had in our earned revenue, and also the YMCA’s inability to qualify for the PPP (Paycheck Protection) program,” he said. “This is really a gift right at the right time that will allow us to sustain and to magnify our work.”
That work includes the operation of four YMCA locations in Boise, Meridian and Caldwell, and many other camps and programs in southwest Idaho.
The gifts are part of Scott’s pledge to give away the majority of her fortune to charity. She donated about $6 billion in 2020. Her net worth was more than $38 billion at the time of her divorce from Bezos, the world’s richest individual, last year. Forbes lists her current wealth at more than $57 billion.
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