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Mackenzie Scott donates to IAAM

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Jeff Bezos may be using his billions to head to outer space, but his ex-wife Mackenzie Scott is sharing her fortune in a more down-to-earth manner. That includes donating to Charleston’s International African American Museum.

In a third round of major giving announced June 15, Scott and her husband Dan Jewett donated $2.7 billion to 286 “high-impact organizations in categories and communities that have been historically underfunded and overlooked,” Scott said in a Medium post.

The IAAM was selected as a recipient following a “rigorous process of research and analysis,” the billionaire philanthropist said. How much the museum received was not disclosed.

“Because community-centered service is such a powerful catalyst and multiplier, we spent the first quarter of 2021 identifying and evaluating equity-oriented non-profit teams working in areas that have been neglected,” Scott said. 

In December 2020, Scott donated $10 million to the United Way of the Midlands as well as an undisclosed amount to Greenville nonprofit CommunityWorks.

IAAM president and CEO Dr. Tonya Matthews said in a news release that she was honored by the gift.

“As I read through the names of nearly 300 extraordinary organizations that have received support – and made note of previous similarly impactful organizations and causes to receive such support — I am delighted to see the work of IAAM championed among this group,” Matthews said. “We are humbled to receive such a ‘signal of trust and encouragement.’”

The IAAM is nearing completion of construction and is expected to open its doors in 2022. The museum’s purpose is to honor untold stories of African-Americans in Charleston

Matthews said she is grateful for the continued support from individuals and organizations both across the country and here in South Carolina. Recent gifts include a $1.7 million product donation from Sony, $1.25 million from the Duke Endowment and a donation from the National Football League. Michelin North America Inc. also announced a partnership with the museum in February.

“It is through such generous and continued support that the work of our museum can be a resounding voice in critical and transformative conversations on race and reconciliation in our country today,” Matthews said. “It is our hope that the generosity of our members, philanthropists, and sponsors are confirmation that these times will transform from moment to movement – and that our museum will be central to that transformation.”

In addition to schools and arts and cultural institutions, Scott and Jewett focused on supporting community engagement itself, noting that the U.S.’s 1.6 million nonprofits employ 10% of the country’s workforce and 63 million volunteers. 

Scott said she and Jewett chose the organizations to enable their work, and as a sign of encouragement.

“People struggling against inequities deserve center stage in stories about change they are creating…. The social structures that inflate wealth present obstacles to them. And despite those obstacles, they are providing solutions that benefit us all,” she said.

Reach Teri Errico Griffis at 843-849-3144.

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