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MacKenzie Scott, a billionaire philanthropist and author known for supporting organizations committed to gender and racial equity, recently announced a gift of $9 million to YWCA Evanston/North Shore, one 384 to receive a gift from after a thorough vetting by a team of advisors.
“To select these 384, the team sought suggestions and perspective from hundreds of field experts, funders, and non-profit leaders and volunteers with decades of experience,” wrote Ms. Scott in a Dec. 15 blog post announcing the gifts. The post was titled “384 Ways to Help.”
She wrote that her team looked at 6,490 nonprofits and, after viewing each organization’s “capacity to absorb and make effective use of funding,” arrived at a final list of 384. Recipients were selected on such criteria as community need, program impact and outcomes, strong leadership teams, and the ability to absorb and make effective use of funding to leverage even greater impact.
Ms. Scott also encouraged others to support the organizations on her list.
“This was a totally unexpected surprise,” said Karen Singer, president and CEO of YWCA Evanston/North Shore. “We are so honored and grateful that MacKenzie Scott, a philanthropist who cares deeply about equity and the systemic issues that affect women and children, has recognized the need for our work and has confidence in what we do to improve the lives of women, children and families, and make our communities more equitable for all. This incredible gift helps amplify the ongoing support of our donors and community partners who make our work possible day in and day out.”
Ms. Singer said she is now working with the YWCA’s board of directors to think through a long-term strategy to leverage this unique gift to propel social change, drive program innovation and build resilience for generations to come.
“Scott’s gift at this particular moment in time gives us the opportunity to strengthen and expand our work not just today – in the midst of a pandemic, which has increased rates of domestic violence and revealed, deep systemic inequities — but for generations to come,” continued Ms. Singer. “It ensures we’ll be here to meet the needs of those in our communities for years into the future.”
She added, “We would not be here without the commitment of our board of directors, our amazing staff and the thousands of people who engage in our work in a variety of ways, from financial support, to volunteering, to participating in our programs, educational opportunities, and events.”
Ms. Singer said the YWCA’s strategic plan for the future, which includes a campus renovation and a new domestic violence shelter currently under construction, will not change due to the gift. Rather the organization is currently reviewing how to best use the funds to accelerate programs made possible by their strategic expansion to achieve even greater impact.