Utah nonprofit included in philanthropist MacKenzie Scott's $2.7 billion latest round of charitable giving


NEW YORK (Reuters) — A Utah nonprofit was one among nearly 300 organizations that benefited from billionaire philanthropist MacKenzie Scott's $2.7 billion in donations Tuesday.

Scott focused on organizations she described as "categories and communities that have been historically underfunded and overlooked."

Spy Hop, a youth media arts center located in Salt Lake City that encourages youth to tell their story through film, music, audio and design, received $3 million, the nonprofit announced in a statement Tuesday. The center offers in-school, after-school, summer camps, youth-in-care and satellite programming for children ages 9 to 19, according to its website.

"(Scott's) stunning gift validates the work our staff does to mentor young people to find their voice, tell their stories and create positive change in their lives and the world," Spy Hop Executive Director Kasandra VerBrugghen said in the statement. "This unrestricted donation comes at a pivotal time for our organization, it gives us the ability to think deeply, dream big, and ultimately create a plan that will guide our organization forward."

Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall congratulated the organization in a tweet. "You do amazing things for creative young people in our community and I'm excited to see what you'll come up with next!" Mendenhall wrote.

Congratulations @spy_hop! You do amazing things for creative young people in our community and I'm excited to see what you'll come up with next! https://t.co/RBE7ZeIkQA

— Mayor Erin Mendenhall (@slcmayor) June 15, 2021

Scott, who became one of the world's richest women upon her 2019 divorce from Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos, has since given away more than $8 billion in three rounds of contributions — each made public via a surprise announcement.

Last year, amid the coronavirus pandemic, she donated more than $4 billion to food banks and emergency relief funds, months after she announced $1.7 billion in grants to causes such as racial equality, LGBTQ rights and climate change.

Scott, who is now married to Dan Jewett, a Seattle science teacher, received a 4% stake in Amazon as part of her divorce and has promised to give away the vast majority of her fortune. The 51-year-old is worth around $60 billion, according to Forbes, making her the 20th-richest person in the world.

In a blog post on the website Medium, Scott said she and Jewett grappled with how to announce the donations due to their discomfort with becoming the center of the story, rather than the groups they intend to benefit.

"Me, Dan, a constellation of researchers and administrators and advisors — we are all attempting to give away a fortune that was enabled by systems in need of change," she wrote. "In this effort, we are governed by a humbling belief that it would be better if disproportionate wealth were not concentrated in a small number of hands."

The groups range from higher education institutions such as schools in the California and Texas state university systems and community colleges, to arts centers such as the Apollo Theater, and to organizations dedicated to racial and gender equity.

Contributing: Ashley Fredde, KSL.com

(Reporting by Joseph Ax; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

© Copyright Thomson Reuters 2021

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