CLEVELAND - Philanthropist MacKenzie Scott has made an unrestricted $6.8 million donation to Boys & Girls Clubs of Northeast Ohio, a gift that kickstarts BGCNEO’s plan to double the number of kids it serves.
BGCNEO officials said the gift, which was both unsolicited and unexpected, will help the organization get closer to accomplishing its goal of adding Clubs and serving 20,000 kids by 2025. That goal was part of a new strategic plan finalized by BGCNEO before the gift was made.
Jeff Scott, the organization’s CEO and unrelated to the donor, called the donation “an amazingly generous gift to our kids.” He said opening more Clubs for afterschool programming is a critical need in Northeast Ohio, a region with one of the nation’s highest child-poverty rates, and that BGCNEO hopes corporate partners will now make that plan a reality. “Our kids deserve our unrelenting efforts,” he said.
Scott said the award was unusual not just in its size but also in that it was not the result of a request by BGCNEO. He said it was MacKenzie Scott’s team that contacted him about BGCNEO’s work to alleviate child poverty and help working families in the region. The same team followed up with questions and then informed him of the award. “We are so thankful,” Jeff Scott said.
BGCNEO, which provides safe, fun places for kids ages 6-18 after school, now has 40 Club sites and about 10,000 members in Cuyahoga, Summit, Lorain and Erie counties. The organization was formed by the 2019 merger of Clubs in Cleveland, Akron, Lorain County and Sandusky.
Boys & Girls Clubs focus on academic success, healthy lifestyles and character development.
Cleveland ranks dead last among large cities in child poverty, with 46.1% of children in the city living below the poverty line. BGCNEO provides free afterschool care for families, and the Clubs provide a safe place for kids during the most dangerous time for them – the hours right after school.
BGCNEO’s strategic plan was nearly two years in the making and included input from kids, families, community partners, funders, employees and board members. In addition to the goal of doubling the number of members from 10,000 to 20,000, the plan calls for creating closer connections between Clubs and neighborhoods as well as deepening BGCNEO’s programming.
MacKenzie Scott’s grantmaking has been extraordinary. She has given away billions to nonprofits while not being receptive to traditional fundraising requests. The novelist and ex-wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has a net worth of about $47 billion and has given away approximately 18% of that, according to Forbes. The fortune comes from Amazon shares she retained during her divorce from Bezos.
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