Goodwill Easterseals Miami Valley receives $10M gift from MacKenzie Scott

Credit: Dan Dickson

Credit: Dan Dickson

Goodwill Easterseals Miami Valley has received a $10 million gift from MacKenzie Scott as part of the $4.1 billion the author and philanthropist has given away in the past four months to hundreds of organizations as part of a giving pledge she announced last year.

The Dayton-area nonprofit said it was the largest gift in the organization’s history and, “which will allow us to significantly expand services that help people in poverty and people with disabilities to achieve independence and a better quality of life,” said Lance Detrick, president and CEO of Goodwill Easterseals.

Detrick said they only recently learned they would be receiving the $10 million gift, so the organization has not finalized any plans as to what they will do with the money. They did not apply for any grants or have any expectation of getting the money, Detrick said.

Since it has no strings attached, he said they may put some of it towards the new West Campus Community Services Center in West Dayton/Trotwood and expand some of their job training services available at that site.

Goodwill Easterseals announced plans for the new center earlier this year. Construction has not yet started on the project.

Their exact plans for the $10 million will be determined in the first half of 2021, Detrick said.

“It’s just a great thing,” Detricksaid. “I can’t emphasize how grateful we are to MacKenzie Scott for this amazing gift.”

The nonprofit was one of 384 organizations Scott’s team selected in the United States.

“This generous gift to our great Goodwill Easterseals organization will help us to more rapidly expand support for people in need in the Miami Valley during this challenging time.” said Gary Hunt, board chair of GSMV.

Scott is the former wife of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and a multi-billionaire. She pledged last year to give away most of her wealth.

Scott announced her pandemic-era philanthropy in a Medium post Tuesday. She described the coronavirus pandemic as “a wrecking ball in the lives of Americans already struggling,” and noted is has been worse for women, people of color and those living in poverty.

“Meanwhile,” she wrote, “it has substantially increased the wealth of billionaires.”

After donating $1.68 billion to 116 nonprofits, universities, community development groups and legal organizations last July, Scott asked a team of advisers to help her “accelerate” her 2020 giving with immediate help to those financially gutted by the pandemic.

She said the team used a data-driven approach, identifying organizations with strong leadership and results, specifically in communities with high food insecurity, racial inequity and poverty rates, “and low access to philanthropic capital.”

Scott and her team started with 6,490 organizations, researched 822 and put 438 “on hold for now,” waiting for more details about their impact, management and how they treat employees or community members.

Scott noted that she was “far from completing” her giving pledge, and urged others to follow her lead in whatever way they could: time, a voice or money.

Other organizations that have benefited from her giving include food banks, emergency relief funds and historically Black colleges and universities, among others.

Goodwill Easterseals said in 2019, they improved the quality of life for more than 20,545 individuals in their 23-county service area through more than 40 programs and services. They also operate 31 Goodwill retail stores, an outlet location, an online auction and a business services division.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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