MacKenzie Scott is an American novelist and philanthropist, as well as the co-founder of Amazon

MacKenzie Scott is an American novelist and philanthropist, as well as the co-founder of Amazon

 

MacKenzie Scott is an American novelist and philanthropist, as well as the co-founder of Amazon. She was named one of the world's most powerful women by Forbes magazine in 2021, and one of the 100 most influential people by Time in 2020.

Scott studied at the Hotchkiss School in Lakeville and then at Princeton University where she became a research assistant to her professor Toni Morrison, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, for his novel "Jazz". Morrison himself described Scott as " one of the best students I've ever had in my creative writing classes."

Scott remembers starting to write at the age of six, when she created her first book "The Book Worm", 142 pages that were unfortunately destroyed by a flood.

Upon graduating from college, she was employed at the financial firm D. E. Shaw where she met Jeff Bezos, whom she married a few months later. Together they have three sons and an adopted daughter.

In 1994, with her husband, she co-founded the company Amazon and became one of its first employees. She was heavily involved in the project and worked on the company name, business plan, accounts and shipping the first orders. Eventually, she decided to focus on her family and her literary career.

In 2005, she released her first novel "The Testin of Luther Albright", for which she won an American Book Award the following year. She explains that it took her ten years to write it, as she divided her time between writing and helping her husband build Amazon, in addition to the birth and raising of their children. Her novel was described as a "rarity" by her former teacher, Toni Morrison, stating that it is a "sophisticated novel that breaks and swells the heart".

She published her second novel, "Traps", in 2013.

In 2014, she founded an anti-bullying platform called ByStander Revolution. The organization offers tips on simple things people can do to alleviate harassment. Its website is an online resource that includes hundreds of unscripted videos in which celebrities, students, experts and others talk about their personal experiences with bullying.

Bystander Revolution also offers solutions to fight bullying and suggests actions people can take when they witness bullying, as well as free multimedia lessons on anti-bullying topics for educators.

In 2019, after 25 years of marriage, she divorced Jeff Bezos. She remarries in 2021 to high school science teacher Dan Jewett, but they also divorce in September 2022.

The third richest woman in the United States, and 35th richest in the world, she is known for her devotion to countless charities and for her very generous donations from which she does not receive any tax benefits. Also a signatory to the Giving Pledge, a campaign encouraging America's wealthiest individuals to pledge the majority of their money for philanthropic purposes, she is deeply committed to sharing her vast wealth for the common good. "I have a disproportionate amount of money to share. My approach to philanthropy will continue to be mindful. It will take time, effort and care. But I will not wait. And I will continue until the safe is empty."

She gives to small associations in particular, granting special attention to children, education, the fight against discrimination, the fight for racial and lgbtqia+ equality, democracy or even climate change.

 

In 2020, Scott donated $5.8 billion to 384 organizations, one of the largest annual distributions by an individual to active charities. She particularly focused on organizations supporting those affected by the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and on addressing long-term systemic inequities. Later in the year, she said she wanted her advisory team to distribute her wealth more quickly as the U.S. struggled with the unprecedented impact of Covid-19 and the wealth of billionaires continued to climb. Her team focused on "identifying organizations with strong leadership teams and results, with special attention to those operating in communities facing high projected food insecurity, high measures of racial inequity, high local poverty rates, and low access to philanthropic capital".

 

In June 2021, Scott partnered with Melinda French Gates to launch the Equality Can't Wait Challenge, a competition to promote gender equality and expand the power and influence of women in the United States by 2030. The four winners received $10 million each and an additional $8 million was divided between two finalists.

 

In December 2021, Scott states that she would not reveal the amount of her donations or who her donations were for. Following this message, she faced backlash, and eventually announced that her team would build a website to share the details of her philanthropy. She published the link to this database in December 2022.

 

In 2022, Scott donated a total of $14 billion to more than 1,600 charities. These include Habitat for Humanity, a Christian organization that brings people together to build homes and communities ; Planned Parenthood, which provides reproductive health and sex education services, contributes to reproductive technology research, and advocates for the protection and expansion of reproductive rights ; or The Big Brothers Big Sisters Foundation, the world's largest mentoring network that connects adult volunteers with youth in meaningful, supervised ways in communities around the world.

In September 2022, she also donated two of her Beverly Hills homes to the California Community Foundation, which provides grants to nonprofit organizations in Los Angeles. The organization intends to sell the two homes and use 90% of the proceeds to fund affordable housing initiatives and the remaining 10% for an immigrant integration program.

In October 2022, she made a donation to Girl Scouts of the USA and its 29 local councils, a youth organization for girls in the United States and young American women living abroad. The donation totaled $84.5 million, the largest contribution by an individual in the organization's history.

Scott has also donated to charities in Kenya, India, Brazil, Micronesia and Latin America.

Forbes magazine stated that "the unrestricted and ultimately more trusting nature of Scott's philanthropy is the exception, not the norm in their world". The New York Times also noted that Scott "has turned traditional philanthropy on its head […]. By disbursing her money quickly and without much hoopla, [she] has pushed the focus away from the giver and onto the nonprofits she is trying to help". Scott herself stated that she thought that "teams with experience on the front lines of challenges will know best how to put the money to good use", and believed that "putting major donors at the center of stories about social progress is a distortion of their role."

According to a report by the Center for Effective Philanthropy, just over half of the 277 nonprofits surveyed said MacKenzie Scott's grant made fundraising easier. Some also say they were able to leverage it with other donors and that her large donations "has enabled organizations to focus funds where they were most needed to achieve their mission."

 

"All wealth is the product of a collective effort." – MacKenzie Scott

 

Article par Julie Poutrel pour Adama Toulon.

© Photo:Elena Seibert

 

 

 

 

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