Regional Goodwill chapter receives $15 million from billionaire McKenzie Scott

The ex-wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has given away more than $6 billion of her money this year

PORTLAND — The billionaire author, philanthropist and ex-wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has been on a bit of a spending spree this year.

The divorce of McKenzie Scott from Bezos in 2019 saw her walk away with over $38 billion worth of Amazon stock.

Scott hasn’t wasted much time putting that money to good use.

In a blog post entitled 384 ways to help, Scott detailed how she and her team began earlier this year looking into nearly 6,500 charities, seeking industry experts to determine which of those on the list best met the needs of their local community.

In the end, they wound up with a list of 384 charities around the world, including 49 regional Goodwill chapters.

The Goodwill store on Fourth Plain in the Orchards area. File photo
The Goodwill store on Fourth Plain in the Orchards area. File photo

$15 million went to Goodwill Industries of the Columbia Willamette, which operates in Northwest Oregon and Southwest Washington.

It was the single largest individual donation in GICW’s history.

“We are humbled by and grateful for Ms. Scott’s impactful and historic gift to our organization,” said CEO and President Cathy Hannam in a news release announcing the historic gift. “Her generosity and vision will help advance our efforts to directly and significantly support those who are most in need. This recognition is a demonstration of confidence in our values and the work we are doing to serve the community.”

Billionaire philanthropist McKenzie Scott has donated over $6 billion of her wealth this year. Photo courtesy Associated Press
Billionaire philanthropist McKenzie Scott has donated over $6 billion of her wealth this year. Photo courtesy Associated Press

According to The New York Times, Scott’s donations have also gone to unheralded colleges and universities, most of whom serve minorities and lower-income students. 

Most of the funding for Goodwill Industries of the Columbia Willamette comes from selling donated items at retail locations and outlet stores, including seven in Clark County.

Since closing for several months earlier in the pandemic, nearly all Goodwill stores have reopened, putting more than 2,000 employees back to work.

Goodwill Industries of the Columbia-Willamette received a $15 million donation from billionaire McKenzie Scott. Photo via GICW Twitter
Goodwill Industries of the Columbia-Willamette received a $15 million donation from billionaire McKenzie Scott. Photo via GICW Twitter

A spokesperson for the nonprofit said Scott’s donation will go to expanding Goodwill’s Job Connection program, as well as its Employee and Community Education, ESL, and Long Term Services programs.

“This gift comes at a time when nearly 150,000 Oregonians and 200,000 Washingtonians are unemployed and need support finding their next opportunities,” the company said in a release.

Goodwill’s annual report says 11,676 people found work through their Job Connections program in 2019. Nearly 129,000 people made use of career training services, including 42,000 Goodwill employees.

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