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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Inland Northwest YMCA and Goodwill each receive $10 million from philanthropist MacKenzie Scott

Two Inland Northwest nonprofits were recipients of $20 million in donations from philanthropist MacKenzie Scott, who has spent the past four months donating billions of dollars to charities addressing systemic inequalities and other problems worsened by the pandemic.

The YMCA of the Inland Northwest and Goodwill Industries of the Inland Northwest each received $10 million from Scott.

Scott, a writer and the ex-wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, is currently one of the richest women in the world. In 2019 she joined The Giving Pledge, a collection of ultra-wealthy people from around the world who have promised to give away the majority of their wealth.

In a post on Medium about her most recent philanthropic effort, Scott said she had donated money to 384 organizations across the country, saying the pandemic had been a “wrecking ball” to Americans already struggling and increased the wealth of billionaires.

She has given away $4.1 billion over the past four months to nonprofits across all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. Scott put no conditions on the funds, so nonprofits may spend them on whatever needs they see in their communities.

In a Wednesday news release, leaders at the YMCA of the Inland Northwest said they would work with board volunteers and staff to decide how the donation would be spent, and said it would likely have a large impact on the programs the nonprofit offers.

“We are forever grateful to Ms. Scott for this extraordinary act of philanthropy,” said YMCA of the Inland Northwest President and CEO Steve Tammaro. “This gift is both an acknowledgment of our longstanding service to our community for over 136 years and a challenge to us to do more.”

The YMCA of the Inland Northwest serves the Spokane area and Sandpoint, Idaho. According to the news release, the gift will help the organization continue to offer child-care programs, youth sports, health and fitness, camps and remote school programs for children.

In an interview Thursday, Heather Alexander, senior director of marketing and strategic communications for Goodwill Industries of the Inland Northwest, said the nonprofit was “humbled and shocked” by the gift.

“It was unsolicited and completely unexpected,” Alexander said. “What a great Christmas gift for all the agencies that received this.”

Goodwill Industries of the Inland Northwest serves 23 counties in Eastern Washington and Northern Idaho and provides employment, housing and financial stability resources to people.

Alexander said a significant portion of the revenue the nonprofit operates from comes from the sales of donated items at thrift stores, most of which were closed for at least six weeks during the pandemic, and have seen less traffic as capacity restrictions continue. She said some programs the nonprofit offers have been paused during the pandemic, or have gone online, but others, such as housing assistance, have continued and are still needed.

She said Goodwill staff will do a needs assessment to determine which of Goodwill’s programs will receive the funds, and what is most needed across the nonprofit’s entire service area.

“This gift is just a real catalyst, and it opens an incredible opportunity for us and people in our region who are moving forward and need help,” she said.

Other recipients of funds from Scott include the YWCA of Walla Walla, YMCA of Greater Seattle and YWCA of Seattle, Walla Walla Community College and Easterseals Washington.