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2 local nonprofits receive grants from philanthropist MacKenzie Scott

The United Way of Puerto Rico and the Puerto Rico Food Bank were two of the 384 nonprofits that will split $4.2 billion in charitable giving from philanthropist MacKenzie Scott, co-founder of Amazon and the richest woman in the world.

In a post she published late last week, Scott said the economic and health-related losses associated with the COVID-19 pandemic have been “worse for women, for people of color, and for people living in poverty. Meanwhile, it has substantially increased the wealth of billionaires.”

Those circumstances prompted her to move quicker on her pledge to give back her fortune to society, and over the past four months her team identified 6,490 organizations that could benefit but reduced the list to 822. Of those, 438 were “put on hold,” ending with a short list of grantees that she said are “filling basic needs: food banks, emergency relief funds, and support services for those most vulnerable.”

The Puerto Rico Food Bank is receiving funding from the grant that Scott assigned to Feeding America, while the local chapter of the United Way will benefit from the funding bestowed to the nonprofit across the United States.

“We are profoundly grateful to be included among the stewards of MacKenzie Scott’s philanthropic contributions, along with a number of the remarkable Feeding America member food banks serving communities across the country,” said Claire Babineaux-Fontenot, CEO of Feeding America.

“At a time when the world is in the grips of the devastating health and economic impacts of the pandemic, tens of millions more people in this country are struggling with the added and often daunting challenges of being food insecure,” she said.

“Our food banks, agency partners and volunteers have stood in the gap with and for them. With this remarkable show of generosity, Ms. Scott has fortified our efforts to ensure that people have the food they need, and communities emerge so much stronger than would be possible without her help,” Babineaux-Fontenot said.

In her post, Scott mentioned Puerto Rico directly, as a place where organizations have been “working to alleviate suffering for those hardest-hit by the pandemic.”

“Witnessing the determination, creativity, and compassion of people in a crisis has been inspiring: cash cards for farmers in Puerto Rico; direct deposits for furloughed workers without access to employer-based benefits; rental assistance for immigrant families without access to government relief; young volunteers stepping in for vulnerable older ones to deliver millions of meals to newly isolated seniors; shelters and counseling centers forming partnerships to handle the surge in domestic violence; two former debt collections executives enabling donors to anonymously forgive $1,000 in crushing medical debt for struggling families with every gift of $10,” she said.

Brian Gallagher, president of United Way Worldwide, said her donation “comes at a critical time for these United Ways, as they respond to unrelenting demands for services due to the social and economic upheaval of the past year; the ongoing health crisis from the pandemic; and the uncertainty surrounding additional federal aid to help those in crisis. These much-needed resources will enable these United Ways to continue and, in many cases, expand, services to millions of people in need.”

“MacKenzie Scott’s generosity is nothing short of remarkable. We couldn’t be more appreciative knowing the difference this gift will make toward improving people’s lives,” said Gallagher.  

“This is, without question, the kind of life-changing gift that will enable these United Ways to drive the vital work they do every day to strengthen and help create healthy communities,” he said.

News is my Business was unable to confirm how much each of the two local nonprofits will receive, as the amounts are not public.

Author Details
Author Details
Business reporter with 29 years of experience writing for weekly and daily newspapers, as well as trade publications in Puerto Rico. My list of former employers includes Caribbean Business, The San Juan Star, and the Puerto Rico Daily Sun, among others. My areas of expertise include telecommunications, technology, retail, agriculture, tourism, banking and most other segments of Puerto Rico’s economy.

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