Girl Scouts of Nassau receive $1.8 million gift from MacKenzie Scott, ex-wife of Jeff Bezos

MacKenzie Scott, who helped ex-husband Jeff Bezos build Amazon, donated $1.8 million to Girl Scouts of Nassau County, the largest donation in the council’s 104-year history, the council said. board general manager, Rande Bynum.

The donation, announced Tuesday by Girl Scouts of the USA, is part of an $84.5 million gift from Scott to the Girl Scout movement, including the national office and 29 of the 111 councils nationwide, Bynum said. This follows gifts Scott has given to other youth organizations, including the Boys & Girls Clubs of America and the National 4-H Council.

“Hearing someone say, on the other end of the line, ‘We want you to have the opportunity to continue your meaningful work’ and to have it unlimited and at my discretion to do something good with that money, c is what every leading nonprofit dreams of,” said Bynum. “Not only did I scream, I cried. I am not a crier. I had to excuse myself and apologize.

The Nassau Council plans to use the money to improve access for all girls and to increase its innovation and diversity efforts over the next three years, Bynum said. Specific plans include strengthening girls’ mental health, sports and civic engagement; focus on 10 communities that have seen either a drastic decline in membership or potential for growth, such as Port Washington, Glen Cove, Roosevelt and Freeport; launch a “Bubbles & Bridges” program for middle school girls encouraging them to come out of their bubbles to connect with people who may not be like them; and expanding the “Traveling Trefoil” van program that launched last year by opening brick-and-mortar stores that will allow foot traffic participation in Girl Scouting, Bynum said.

The council is focusing its efforts on diversity because the percentage of scouts from different demographics does not reflect the percentage of that overall demographic group in the county, Bynum said. For example, 14% of Nassau County girls are black, but 5% of Girl Scout members are; 23% of girls in the county are Hispanic, but 10% of Girl Scout members are, she said. “We are diverse, but we can do better,” Bynum said.

Bynum said she doesn’t know why Nassau County was selected to receive funding. Girl Scouts of the USA also doesn’t know what criteria was used, said Rebecca Moeller, vice president of communications for Girl Scouts of the USA.

“The selection criteria have not been made public or shared with us, but we are very grateful for the support,” Moeller said. The Suffolk County Girl Scouts are not recipients, Moeller noted.

Bynam said she was alerted to the donation in May, but had to keep it a secret until the donation was officially announced Tuesday morning. When she first received an email asking her to call the organization that helps Scott with donations, Bynum thought it was suspicious spam and did not respond.

“It’s a fun story,” Bynum said. It wasn’t until the national CEO of the Girl Scouts emailed Bynum and told her it was real that Bynum made the call.

“As soon as the M comes out of his mouth for the name of the donor, I realize what is happening. I thought, ‘Even if we had $100,000, it would make a big difference.’ Then she says $1.8 million,” Bynum said. “I was not allowed to tell anyone about it. The only person I could talk to was my CFO. My mother doesn’t know. I had to keep this secret for so long.

The Nassau Council’s annual budget is $7.5 million. The extra money allows Bynum to achieve some of the council’s dream goals. “I keep this list of things I wish I could do ‘If only,’” Bynum said. “These are things that were on my wish list. »

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