YWCA Ulster County receives $1 million from MacKenzie Scott

Philanthropist and novelist MacKenzie Scott has made news in recent weeks by giving away $6 billion, mostly to small non-profits hit hard by the pandemic.

YWCA Ulster County is among the beneficiaries.

“YWCA Ulster County will utilize the contribution to advance our mission to empower  women and eliminate racism as we continue to serve women, children, youth, and their families,” reads an announcement today from the organization.

“We are honored to receive this game-changing gift,” said Executive Director Susan Mack. “This will enable us to move in new directions  to support our community. YWCA Ulster County is now seeking people with talent and vision to help  guide our direction in 2021 and beyond. We want to hear the voices of our community in all its diversity and richness. We are looking for people who know what is happening and people who know how to  make things happen as we move toward our 100th year of service.”

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Anyone interested in joining the non-profit is invited to contact Mack at smack@ywcaulstercounty.org.  

Several other YWCAs also received generous gifts from Scott.

“We are grateful for this contribution  and the generosity of MacKenzie Scott which will help us continue to meet the needs of the most  vulnerable children, women and their families in the communities we serve,” said Alejandra Y. Castillo,  CEO of YWCA USA. “This contribution is an example of trust-based philanthropy at its best and will go a  long way to help YWCAs across the country continue to serve over 2 million women, girls, and their  families to meet the growing needs of those impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, fight the racial  injustices that plague our nation, and to provide programming and services designed to level the playing  field and bring about equality for women and people of color.” 

A December 20 New York Times article by Nicholas Kulish, “Giving Billions Fast, MacKenzie Scott Upends Philanthropy,” describes how another YCWA found out about its gift.

On a Monday evening in November, Dorri McWhorter, the chief executive of the Y.W.C.A. Metropolitan Chicago, got a phone call from a representative of the billionaire philanthropist MacKenzie Scott. The news was almost too good to be true: Her group would be receiving a $9 million gift.

Between the pandemic and the recession, it had been a difficult year for the Chicago Y.W.C.A., which runs a rape crisis hotline and provides counseling to women on jobs, mortgages and other issues. Money was tight. Ms. McWhorter shed tears of joy on the call.

Similar scenes were playing out at charities nationwide. Ms. Scott’s team recently sent out hundreds of out-of-the-blue emails to charities, notifying them of an incoming gift. Some of the messages were viewed as possible scams or landed in spam filters. Many of the gifts were the largest the charities had ever received. Ms. McWhorter was not the only recipient who cried.

All told, Ms. Scott — whose fortune comes from shares of Amazon that she got after her divorce last year from Jeff Bezos, the company’s founder — had given more than $4 billion to 384 groups, including 59 other Y.W.C.A. chapters.

The article notes that Scott’s donations, unlike most other philanthropic gifts or grants, are no-strings-attached; organizations can spend the money as they see fit.

The YWCA sums up its mission thusly:

Every day, YWCAs across the nation work to advance gender equity and racial justice. We work to  improve the lives of women, girls, and communities of color through local programming and services,  advocacy, and other initiatives to transform the lives of the people we serve. We do this work because  we envision a world of opportunity, and we demand equity. We won’t stop until the world sees women,  girls, and people of color the way we do: Equal. Powerful. Unstoppable.