Big Brothers Big Sisters gets a $122.6 million gift from Mackenzie Scott, in the organization’s largest donation in 118 years.
In 1904, Ernest Kent Coulter, a court clerk in New York, watched many young boys without adult mentors come through the courts. Wanting to see what good caring adults could do for these youths, he sought volunteers. Curated volunteers were paired with at-risk boys, and the movement saw immediate positive results. By 1916, it had spread to 96 U.S. cities. In 1958, it was given a Congressional charter. And in 1977, it merged with Big Sisters International, a nearly identical movement founded in 1906 by the Ladies of Charity as Catholic Big Sisters. Together, the two became Big Brothers Big Sisters, and have operated ever since. As of 2011, the organization had the CharityWatch’s highest rating, an A+. The score indicates their transparency, reliable leadership, record of public trust, and responsible use of funds.
The massive donation, four times what the organization receives annually from its government charter, will be divided between 38 BBBS chapters across the U.S., according to organization CEO Artis Stevens. The huge influx of money will allow BBBS to expand their mentorship to youths 18-25, getting them through the age of college or trade schools.
Scott, who divorced Amazon founder Jeff Bezos several years ago, is the 36th wealthiest person alive today, with an estimated net worth of nearly $32 billion. She pledged to give away most of her fortune in 2019, and since then has given over $12 billion to more than 1200 organizations and charities.
In March alone, Scott donated almost $4 billion to groups including Planned Parenthood and Habitat for Humanity.
She is “attempting to give away a fortune that was enabled by systems in need of change,” Scott wrote of her philanthropic endeavors. “In this effort, we are governed by a humbling belief that it would be better if disproportionate wealth were not concentrated in a small number of hands, and that the solutions are best designed and implemented by others.”