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Philanthropist MacKenzie Scott donates $10M to Treasure Valley YMCA


Philanthropist MacKenzie Scott has donated $10 million to the Treasure Valley Family YMCA, the largest donation the organization has ever received.

The Treasure Valley Family YMCA is among 384 U.S. organizations that received a portion of $4.16 billion in donations from Scott — whose ex-husband is Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. The list of recipients spans all 50 U.S. states along with Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C. The donations are meant to help community organizations affected by the pandemic, Scott wrote in a blog post last week.

“Some are filling basic needs: food banks, emergency relief funds, and support services for those most vulnerable,” wrote Scott, whose net worth is estimated at more than $56 billion, according to Forbes. “Others are addressing long-term systemic inequities that have been deepened by the crisis: debt relief, employment training, credit and financial services for under-resourced communities, education for historically marginalized and underserved people, civil rights advocacy groups, and legal defense funds that take on institutional discrimination.”

Idaho’s only recipient

The Treasure Valley Family YMCA appears to be the only Idaho organization to receive a donation from Scott.

David Duro, president and CEO of Treasure Valley Family YMCA, told the Idaho Press being selected for the donation — a four-month process to select the nearly 400 recipients — is a “tribute” to the staff and volunteers at the nonprofit.

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“It’s really amazing,” Duro said of the donation. “People are so generous and so supportive of the Y and everything we’ve done and continue to do. We feel really fortunate for all the support we receive, but this one, it’s really nice to be recognized in this way.”

The Treasure Valley Family YMCA was hard hit by the pandemic, with millions in lost revenue due to facility closures, which led to programs cancellations and employee furloughs. Duro said the YMCA did not qualify for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which “made the pain of the whole pandemic a little greater.”

No strings attached

The Scott donation could fund about half of the Treasure Valley Family YMCA’s entire 2020 budget, about $20 million, down from $26 million in 2019.

The organization will spend the next several months looking at how to best invest the funds.

The Treasure Valley Family YMCA operates four membership facilities and dozens of child development facilities in the area. The organization’s finances are managed by a board of 30 volunteers from across the valley, who will decide how Scott’s donation is used. It may be used to offset pandemic losses or to meet long-term goals, Duro said.

“We have a lot of need and a lot of things that we’d like to do, and money only goes so far,” he said. “We want to make sure that we’re using the funds in a way that Ms. Scott would be proud and supportive of and that really helps our community.”

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The donation comes with “no strings attached,” Scott wrote in her blog.

“We shared each of our gift decisions with program leaders for the first time over the phone, and welcomed them to spend the funding on whatever they believe best serves their efforts,” she wrote. “They were told that the entire commitment would be paid upfront and left unrestricted in order to provide them with maximum flexibility.”

A team of Scott’s advisors first selected nearly 6,500 organizations as possible recipients before narrowing the list to 822, then 384 after “deeper research,” she wrote.

Duro said the YMCA is committed to “making every dollar count for the good of our community.”

“That’s something the staff at ‘The Y’ takes very seriously,” he said. “We know we’ve been entrusted with this gift and with many gifts from across the community, which we very much still need. But we just want to be the very best stewards in providing great return on earned and donated dollars.”

Ryan Suppe - Idaho Press reporter
Ryan Suppe - Idaho Press reporter
Ryan Suppe is a reporter for Meridian Press, Kuna-Melba News and The Idaho Press. Follow him on twitter, @salsuppe.

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