MacKenzie Scott, the richest woman in the world, pledged last year to give her wealth away, and she has started to do so this year by prioritizing LGBTQ equity as one of nine target causes.
Scott, who split from Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos last year after a 26-year marriage with a multi-billion dollar divorce settlement, announced on July 26 the recipients of the first $1.7 billion round of donations. LGBTQ organizations received a total of $46 million, the smallest amount of any of the nine target areas which also include racial equity, gender equity, and public health.
LGBTQ organizations on the list of recipients include PFLAG National, Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice, Point Foundation, GLSEN, Transgender Law Center, Lambda Legal, Fund for Trans Generations, The Trevor Project, International Trans Fund, National Center for Lesbian Rights, and SAGE.
What will they do with that much-needed influx of cash? Here’s how they’re putting it to work.
GLSEN focuses on LGBTQ inclusion in K-12 schools, and executive director Eliza Byard says the gift will allow them to double their student outreach efforts and launch new strategies. “Each of these initiatives will strengthen our ongoing work to foster equality and acceptance for LGBTQ students and educators as they return to school in a time of great uncertainty and hardship,” Byard tells Tagg.
Lambda Legal CEO Kevin Jennings said in a statement that “this gift comes at a particularly propitious moment as we are in the process of developing a strategic plan to carry us through our 50th anniversary in 2023 and beyond.” Lambda Legal works for the civil legal rights of LGBTQ people and people living with HIV and Jennings says this “will enable us to invest in new initiatives arising out of that planning process.”
The Point Foundation gives scholarships to LGBTQ students to go to college. Their director, Jorge Valencia, tells Tagg that Scott’s gift will allow them to continue providing these scholarships. “Scott’s gift will be used to expand and deepen our work, including our programs to support LGBTQ students who are experiencing unique hardships during the pandemic and our new scholarship fund initiative for LGBTQ students who are Black, Indigenous and people of color.” The donation couldn’t come at a better time: “Right now, LGBTQ students are grappling with everything from loss of secure campus housing to loss of jobs during the pandemic, and Scott’s extraordinary gift allows us to provide varied and nimble support as urgent challenges and unexpected needs arise for our students.”
The Fund for Trans Generations will be able “to continue supporting trans, gender non-conforming, and non-binary people, especially Black trans women and femmes, working to ensure the safety, security, and self determination of trans people” with a gift of $2 million over three years, according to a statement. Senior Program Officer Ryan Li Dahlstrom says, “This gift means additional multiyear, general operating support and capacity building for our grantees. Support like this means we have more dollars to put toward funding at the intersections and really being there for the long haul as our grantees fight for freedom for everyone.”
For all of these recipients, being there for the long haul now feels a little more secure.