YMCA of Metropolitan Detroit receives $10M gift from philanthropist MacKenzie Scott

Jasmin Barmore
The Detroit News

The YMCA of Metropolitan Detroit has received a $10 million donation from MacKenzie Scott, the former wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, as part of her efforts to give back to struggling communities. 

Scott, an American philanthropist and author, received billions in her divorce settlement with Bezos and has pledged to donate that money, focusing on women, people of color and those living in poverty. 

MacKenzie Scott

The YMCA of Metropolitan Detroit is one of 384 organizations, including 43 YMCA’s across the nation, to receive donations from Scott and just one of many nonprofits the philanthropist has donated to in Michigan.

In December, the United Way for Southeastern Michigan said it received $25 million from Scott. Easterseals Michigan, which offers services for adults and children on the autism spectrum, said it received $15 million. And Forgotten Harvest also disclosed they received a donation from the philanthropist. Also on the list were Food Bank of Eastern Michigan, Goodwill Industries of Greater Grand Rapids, Goodwill Northern Michigan, Invest Detroit and the YWCA of Metropolitan Detroit.

The Mackenzie Scott gift is the single largest individual gift the YMCA of Metro Detroit has ever received. The non-profit organization said in a statement that they are extremely grateful  and that it will help the group develop and implement initiatives to realize its vision rooted in the YMCA’s core values of caring, honesty, inclusion respect and responsibility.

“This gift will assist us with expanding and deepening our work, which includes addressing the health disparities in our community," Helene Weir, president and CEO, said. “The COVID-19 pandemic presented the greatest challenge our YMCA’s have had to face in my lifetime, while also presenting the YMCA with incredible opportunities to meet extraordinary community needs.”

Scott noted in a July post on "Medium" that COVID-19 has been a “wrecking ball” for poverty stricken communities, but it has “substantially increased the wealth of billionaires.” In her giving pledge, Scott said she planned to give the majority of her wealth back to the society that helped generate it and she planned to keep at it “until the safe was empty.”