By MARIA DI MENTO from The Chronicle of Philanthropy, Chronicle of Philanthropy
MacKenzie Scott has donated $122.6 million to Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, the national youth mentoring charity announced Tuesday. The gift is the latest of several the billionaire writer has donated to major national nonprofits that carry out their missions through local chapters in neighborhoods across the country.
With this latest donation, Scott has given a total of nearly $12.5 billion since 2020 to at least 1,253 nonprofits, many of which aim to help low-income and underserved populations. Her latest donation to Big Brothers Big Sisters of America follows three other nine-figure donations she made to major national charities with local affiliates in March.
These include $275 million to the Planned Parenthood Federation of American for its national office and 21 of its local affiliates, $436 million to Habitat for Humanity International and 84 of its US affiliates, and $281 million to the Boys & Girls Clubs America and 62 of its local affiliates. chapters.
So far, Scott has given away at least $1.5 billion in the first five months of 2022, according to about 30 nonprofits that announced gifts to Scott this year.
Like almost all of Scott’s donations, the contribution is unlimited, so the charity can use it for programs, operations, or any other purpose.
“It’s a thunderbolt for the work we’re going to do,” said Artis Stevens, CEO of the group, who said he had spent the past two years devising a strategic plan to expand his mentoring capabilities and was beginning to devise fundraising efforts when Stevens received news of the giveaway last week. “While this gift is going to be transformative, one in three children in this country does not have a positive and supportive mentor in their life and so this challenge is bigger than any one organization can meet. We know we have to be in able to develop a capacity both within our organization and in partnership with others to take on this.”
Stevens says the organization plans to use Scott’s gift for a variety of efforts both at its national office in Tampa, Fla., and in 38 of its 230 chapters across the county. Many families and young people served by the association come from underserved populations and have been hard hit by the pandemic and recent struggles for social justice.
The organization currently has 30,000 young people waiting for a mentor. Stevens says Scott’s donation will help him expand his ability to match more young people with mentors and offer more mentor training programs. It also aims to attract more volunteers who identify as people of color and LGBTQ+, as well as those in rural areas.
The non-profit organization plans to expand its offerings beyond its traditional format of one-on-one mentoring for children and teens by creating more group mentoring, peer-to-peer mentoring and workplace mentoring for young people. 18 to 25 years old.
“We are the largest provider of workplace mentoring for young people in the country,” Stevens said. “We want to be able to broaden and extend our vision to every company in America to have a youth mentorship program that helps both deliver more workforce and engage employees and provide opportunities for children from underrepresented and underserved communities.
Youth mentorship programs require huge amounts of resources and staff time to work well, said David DuBois, a professor at the University of Illinois who has studied mentorship programs for three decades and served as a volunteer mentor for Big Brothers Big Sisters for two years earlier in his academic career.
“You have to be able to support those relationships and check in and make sure that all parties — the child, the volunteer, the parents — are getting the encouragement and the guidance,” DuBois said. “So there are a lot of moving parts in these programs.”
A key component is the thorough interview and vetting process volunteer mentors must go through before they are allowed to work with young people, he said. Volunteers need to be trained, then the relationship between the volunteer and the young person needs ongoing coaching and monitoring. Having enough resources to carry out all of this is crucial.
Although Scott’s donation is a boon to the organization, Stevens says that with all the charity hopes to accomplish, he knows it will only go so far. He and his team are already having conversations with the organization’s donors about its ongoing needs. Stevens says he sees the donation as an “invitation” to other donors to support the group’s plans for the future.
As with all large donations, however, some donors might feel that Big Brothers Big Sisters no longer needs their support, said Tyrone McKinley Freeman, associate professor of philanthropic studies and director of undergraduate programs at the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.
“There’s this kind of tension that organizations have had to deal with for a long time,” Freeman said. “It will be important to communicate how resources are used and what is done, and then how (others) can continue to contribute – especially for something like this where the need exceeds the group’s volunteer base.”
Stevens said he is having these conversations with his other donors now.
He called the giveaway “awesome,” saying, “It’s transformative for 38 of our agencies, but we have 230 agencies, and we know there’s still a lot of work to do. There are more opportunities, more growth and more needs in this country. But we need more people around the table. It takes all of us.
This article was provided to The Associated Press by the Chronicle of Philanthropy. Maria Di Mento is a senior reporter at the Chronicle. Email: [email protected] The AP and the Chronicle are supported by the Lilly Endowment for coverage of philanthropy and nonprofit organizations. The AP and the Chronicle are solely responsible for all content. For all of AP’s philanthropy coverage, visit https://apnews.com/hub/philanthropy.
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