Philanthropist MacKenzie Scott donates millions to Minnesota nonprofits

Billionaire philanthropist MacKenzie Scott announced on Tuesday that several Minnesota nonprofits would receive millions of dollars in donations. 

Scott, an author and former wife of Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, gifted $640 million to 316 organizations through her organization Yield Giving. 

Last year, Scott announced plans to give $1 million to 250 nonprofits in an "open call" for applications. However, after receiving more than 6,000 applications, she ended up giving much more. 

Of the 316 organizations, eight are based in Minnesota. They are:

  • $2 million for Build Wealth Minnesota – a Minneapolis-based nonprofit to help empower families to build sustainable and social wealth.
  • $2 million for Gender Justice – a nonprofit founded in Minnesota to help advance gender equality.
  • $2 million for OutFront Minnesota – a Minnesota-based nonprofit founded in 1987 to help build power and address inequities within the LGBTQ+ communities.
  • $2 million for CAPI USA – a Minnesota-based nonprofit to help guide immigrants and refugees in their journey toward self-determination and social equality.
  • $2 million WellShare International – a nonprofit based in Minneapolis to help advance health equity through community defined solutions that are effective and affordable.
  • $2 million for Appetite For Change – a nonprofit based in north Minneapolis that uses food as a tool to help build health, wealth and social change.
  • $2 million for ISAIAH -  a Minnesota-based nonprofit fighting for racial and economic justice.
  • $1 million Dream of Wild Health - a nonprofit based in the Twin Cities to restore the health and wellbeing of Native American communities.

"When we received the email, I was at an event and had to maintain my composure," said Mary Niedermeyer, CAPI CEO, in a statement. "We feel incredibly grateful and honored to receive this once-in-a-lifetime gift. These funds will not only help CAPI boost our general operations, but they will also help us to establish a community reinvestment fund that is focused on the City of Brooklyn Center." 

In 2023, Scott donated an additional $21.6 million to over half a dozen Twin Cities nonprofits. According to the Yield Giving database, 33 nonprofits in Minnesota have received at least $127.25 million since 2020. 

Though not listed in the official disbursement, another nonprofit, Twin Cities Rise, says Scott's charity also gifted them $3 million in a surprise donation.

As a community outreach coordinator, Quinten Osgood is often the public face of Twin Cities R!se. But he's not just an employee of the north Minneapolis nonprofit, he's a graduate of it as well.

"I was told I was crazy and stupid and would never be anything since I was four years old. The program was helpful to me because it helped me to gain confidence in myself. It helped me to realize that I have value," said Osgood. 

For more than three decades, the organization has helped people overcome generational poverty through eight week-long programs on personal empowerment and career training and then placement in jobs like facilities maintenance, customer support and diesel engine repair.

Now the nonprofit has received its largest gift ever, $3 million from billionaire philanthropist Scott, to spend on whatever it wants.

"It was unreal. It was very emotional. This is a testament to our team," said Twin Cities R!se President and CEO Emma Corrie.

Corrie says the money will be used to help Twin Cities R!se expand to St. Cloud and invest in technology to help more participants take advantage of their curriculum virtually.

"Transformational. Historic. Inspiring. Just inspires us to be better for our community," said Corrie.

It's tradition when a graduate has been in a job for a year to come back and ring the bell in the lobby.

Osgood believes the historic gift will keep their bell ringing for years to come.

"It will help us to reach a lot more people and support a lot more people in many different ways than just the norm of what we do. My life is proof that it works. I am a productive citizen of society," said Osgood.