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Philanthropist MacKenzie Scott gives Girl Scouts $84.5M, but local chapter won’t get cut of donation

Oct. 18, 2022 Updated Tue., Oct. 18, 2022 at 8:59 p.m.

By Jim Allen For The Spokesman-Review

Local Girl Scouts are enjoying a big year, though it could have been even better had they been included in a record-breaking gift from philanthropist MacKenzie Scott.

On Tuesday, Scott announced an $84.5 million donation to the Girl Scouts of America – specifically to 29 of its 111 councils nationwide.

The Girl Scouts of Eastern Washington and Northern Idaho wasn’t among the recipients, chief executive officer Brian Newberry confirmed.

Though disappointed, Newberry said the regional council had an “outstanding year” as it recovered membership lost during the pandemic and sold 1.1 million boxes of cookies.

The council has about 3,600 members.

“Our goal is to get to 5,000 in the next three years,” Newberry said.

Newberry’s council also managed to lead the nation in its retention of adult volunteers, with 85% of last year’s adults returning this fall.

Newberry declined to comment on the awards. Like most councils around the nation, the region missed out on the largest donation by a single person in the history of the Girl Scouts of the USA.

Neither Scott, the ex-wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, nor the national Girl Scouts released a list of the 29 councils receiving donations.

“The selection criteria has not been made public or shared with us, but we’re very grateful for the support,” a GSUSA spokesperson told the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday.

“GSUSA did not participate in selecting the amount or councils that received donations. All donations were determined by Ms. Scott and her team,” the spokesperson said.

Sofia Chang, GSUSA chief executive officer, said the gift “is a great accelerator for our ongoing efforts to help girls cultivate the skills and connections needed to lead in their own communities and globally.”

“The support from all our donors, including this generous donation from Ms. Scott, is critical in delivering on our work of reimagination and transformation,” Chang said. “We’re excited to prove how Ms. Scott’s investment in girls will change the world – because when one girl succeeds, we all succeed.”

The gift is expected to aid national and local efforts to attract new scouts.

Since peaking in 2003 with 2.8 million members, Girl Scouts membership has declined steadily.

The pandemic aggravated the problem. According to the Associated Press, the Girl Scouts suffered a 30% decline in membership from 2019-2020 to the following year, from about 1.4 million to a bit more than 1 million.

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