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Wife of Amazon founder donates millions to LGBT+ as part of $1.7billion charity gift

Wife of Amazon founder donates millions to LGBT+ as part of $1.7billion charity gift

  • And there will be billions more to come as MacKenzie Scott promises to donate the majority of her $60billion fortune.
MacKenzie Scott (formerly Bezos).

The ex-wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has donated $1.7 billion to charity in the last year – including $46million to LGBT+ causes.

MacKenzie Scott also made major donations to racial and gender equality and climate change.

Scott has also confirmed she is no longer using her married name – MacKenzie Bezos – is worth an estimated $60billion.

Her divorce from Bezos left her with a 4% stake in Amazon. At the time, that was worth $36billion. But it’s value has soared since. This year, the coronavirus pandemic has seen sales and share values rise sharply at the online retailer.

Scott has signed the Giving Pledge which Bill and Melinda Gates created. By doing so, the 50-year-old has promised to donate the majority of her fortune during her life-time.

She joins Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan who are also signed up to the pledge. However her ex-husband Bezos has not.

Scott wrote: ‘Like many, I watched the first half of 2020 with a mixture of heartbreak and horror.

‘I began work to complete my pledge with the belief that my life had yielded two assets that could be of particular value to others: the money these systems helped deliver to me, and a conviction that people who have experience with inequities are the ones best equipped to design solutions.’

Helping LGBT+ students achieve their potential

Among her LGBT+ donations, Scott has given major grants to Point Foundation and GLSEN – both helping young people.

Point Foundation provides scholarships, mentoring and community service training to help promising LGBT+ students achieve their potential.

During the COVID-19 pandemic it has increased efforts to help LGBT+ students of color, who have suffered particularly from economic hardship.

The foundation has helped students find safe housing after university campuses closed. Moreover, it has helped pay for rent and groceries for students who lost jobs or paid internships.

Jorge Valencia, CEO of Point Foundation, said:

‘We are so grateful for MacKenzie [Scott’s] support of our work to empower LGBTQ students and springboard a new generation of LGBTQ leaders toward success.

‘[Her] support comes at a critical moment as we broaden and deepen our efforts to support LGBTQ students who are black, indigenous and people of color and LGBTQ students who are grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic.

‘Since colleges and universities began shuttering their campuses, our students have faced incredible challenges, from losing safe housing after campus closures to losing jobs and income.

‘We know that LGBTQ young people are powerful and resilient and [her] gift will allow us to help more LGBTQ young people pursue higher education and achieve their full potential as leaders in our society.’

Safe and inclusive schools

Meanwhile Scott is helping younger LGBT+ students too. Her gift to GLSEN will help their work to create safe, inclusive schools.

GLSEN executive director Eliza Byard said:

‘GLSEN is deeply honored to receive a leadership gift from philanthropist and longtime anti-bullying champion MacKenzie [Scott].

‘In a time of dizzying financial uncertainty, her grant is an inspiring vote of confidence in GLSEN’s work.

‘As students go back to school in the midst of the pandemic and uprisings to undo our national legacy of systemic racism, [her] generous gift will help us foster safe and inclusive school communities during one of the most disruptive periods in the history of American education.

‘Specifically, this gift will help bolster our strategic reserve, launch new strategies to grow our impact, and double our student outreach efforts.’

Historically large LGBT+ donation

In fact, Scott gave the least to LGBT+ organizations of all the good causes she is supporting.

However, the money is vast in LGBT+ terms.

Charities for our community invariably attract smaller donations and most face major funding problems, even in a normal year. Currently the largest grant-giving body in the world targeting LGBT+ people donates around $15million a year.

Scott’s donations by charity sector are:

  • Racial equality – $586.7m
  • Economic mobility – $399.5m
  • Gender equality – $133m
  • Global development – $130m
  • Public Health – $128.3m
  • Climate change – $125m
  • Functional democracy – $72m
  • Empathy and bridging divides – $55m
  • LGBT+ equality – $46m

Scott, born in San Francisco, is also a novelist and founded anti-bullying organization Bystander Revolution in 2014. Forbes magazine ranked her as the 19th richest person in the world on 23 July 2020. She has four children.