great scott!

3 Austin-area charities part of famed philanthropist's $4 billion endowment

3 Austin charities part of famed philanthropist's $4 billion endowment

Meals on Wheels of Central Texas
MacKenzie Scott has donated billions to U.S. charities this year, including Meals on Wheels of Central Texas. Meals on Wheels of Central Texas/Facebook

Author and philanthropist MacKenzie Scott (many know her as the former wife of Amazon CEO and billionaire Jeff Bezos) has donated more than $4 billion to charities across the nation — including in Austin and Central Texas.

In a post on Medium, Scott notes that she and her advisers have disbursed some $4,158,500,000 in gifts to 384 organizations across all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and Washington, D.C. over the last four months. This is in effort to “accelerate my 2020 giving through immediate support to people suffering the economic effects of the crisis,” Scott writes.

Scott’s generosity includes these Austin-area organizations and groups:

  • Meals on Wheels Central Texas
  • YWCA Greater Austin
  • Heart of Texas Goodwill Industries (Killeen)

Meals on Wheels received $8 million while YWCA of Greater Austin received $1 million. 

"We are humbled by Ms. Scott’s generosity and deeply thankful for the trust she has shown in our agency and the work we do," Adam Hauser, president and CEO of Meals on Wheels of Central Texas, in a statement. "And, we are immensely grateful for our Central Texas donor and volunteer community for their loyal support and for helping us create and sustain an organization worthy of this extraordinary gift.”  

Scott also bestowed a record-breaking $50 million to Prairie View A&M University, a historically Black college in Houston, the institution announced on December 15. The gift is the largest one-time endowment in the school’s 144-year history.

Under terms of the donation, the funds can be used at the discretion of the president to support the needs of the university, per a press release. Administrators have chosen to designate $10 million of the total to create the Panther Success Grant Program, an effort to assist juniors and seniors with unpaid balances created by the financial challenges posed by COVID-19, the school announced.

“This is a historic gift for Prairie View, coming at a time when the university had already decided and begun to invest heavily in key areas to strengthen its academic programs and improve student success,” said Ruth J. Simmons, president of Prairie View, in a statement. “The timing of this gift could therefore not be better.”  

Simmons adds in a statement that she had been in contact with Scott “about a matter not involving Prairie View,” and thus was “stunned and, for a time speechless” when Scott’s assistant phoned and revealed the donation. 

Other Texas organizations Scott donated to include:

  • Easterseals Rehabilitation Center, San Antonio
  • Easterseals of Greater Houston
  • East Texas Food Bank
  • El Pasoans Fighting Hunger
  • Feeding the Gulf Coast
  • Goodwill Houston
  • Goodwill Industries of Dallas
  • Goodwill Industries of East Texas
  • Goodwill Industries of Fort Worth
  • Meals on Wheels Montgomery County
  • Meals on Wheels North Central Texas
  • Southeast Texas Food Bank
  • South Texas Food Bank
  • Texas A&M International University
  • United Way of El Paso County
  • United Way of San Antonio and Bexar County
  • YMCA of Greater Houston
  • YMCA of Metropolitan Dallas
  • YWCA El Paso del Norte Region
  • YWCA of Lubbock
  • YWCA San Antonio