MacKenzie Scott makes good on pledge to give away her wealth with donation to Habitat for Humanity

MacKenzie Scott makes good on pledge to give away her wealth with donation to Habitat for Humanity

MacKenzie Scott is worth billions, but she’s not trying to keep it. Unlike most rich folks, she’s generously giving the bulk of it away to worthy causes. 

A Tuesday announcement revealed that Scott donated $436 million to Habitat for Humanity International and 84 of its U.S. affiliates. As the Associated Press reports, it is the largest publicly disclosed donation from the well-known philanthropist since her pledge in 2019 to give away nearly all of her wealth.

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Jonathan Reckford, Habitat for Humanity International’s CEO, told AP, “We could not be more excited to get the gift at a time when, in some ways, the state of housing affordability is the worst that it has been in modern times.” According to a press release from the organization, Reckford said that thanks to the donation,  “Habitat is well-positioned to meaningfully advocate for the systemic and societal changes needed to improve equitable access to affordable housing.”

Scott is worth about $48 billion, according to Forbes. In the past two years, she has donated over $8 billion to 786 recipients since announcing her first gift in July 2020. She received 4% of Amazon’s shares as part of her divorce settlement from founder Jeff Bezos. 

Reckford told the AP that Habitat for Humanity International will use Scott’s unrestricted $25 million donation (which accounts for 8% of the organization’s $325 million received in 2020) to increase the supply of affordable housing, with a particular focus on communities of color. 

Scott also gave a substantial donation of $9 million to Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri on Tuesday, along with separate donations to 21 Planned Parenthood organizations across the nation. 

“As a leading sexual and reproductive health care provider caught between two realities — a red and blue state — our patients face some of the most complicated landscapes when accessing the care they need,” said Yamelsie Rodriguez, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood St. Louis Region and SWMO, according to KCUR News

The gift to Planned Parenthood comes during unprecedented times. Missouri state lawmakers are on the attack and trying to push a bill through that could make it a crime to help Missourians get abortions. 

State Rep. Mary Elizabeth Coleman has proposed amendments to three health-related House bills that would allow residents to sue people for helping women who seek abortions. Coleman additionally introduced a bill that would ban abortions. Thankfully, that bill didn’t make it out of committee. 

Today, there is only one clinic in the state that provides abortions; it’s located in St. Louis’ Central West End.

Pro-choice activists are concerned that 2022 could be the year the U.S. Supreme Court overturns the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion nationwide. In 2019, Missouri passed a law that would prohibit the procedure as soon as the high court strikes down the famed decision.

“This gift empowers our boots-on-the-ground teams,” Rodriguez said. “We commit to rebuilding a future where abortion, birth control, STI testing and treatments, and all reproductive health care is accessible and affordable, no matter what.”

Although not legally binding, MacKenzie Scott is a member of The Giving Pledge, “a movement of philanthropists who commit to give the majority of their wealth to charitable causes, either during their lifetimes or in their wills,” according to the group’s website.

The pledge reads: “I have a disproportionate amount of money to share. My approach to philanthropy will continue to be thoughtful. It will take time and effort, and care. But I won’t wait. And I will keep at it until the safe is empty.”

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