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29 Nov 22 103 0 0

Fresno Unified gets 'game-changing' $20 million gift from philanthropist MacKenzie Scott

Cool Story - Fresno Unified gets 'game-changing' $20 million gift from philanthropist MacKenzie Scott

Bob Nelson, the superintendent of Fresno Unified, was ready to make a big announcement at a gala event this week: the district's new foundation had earned $200,000 in college scholarships, primarily from employees. Then, he unexpectedly and uninvitedly received a call informing him that MacKenzie Scott, the late Jeff Bezos' ex-wife, would be donating $20 million to the foundation with no conditions attached, 100 times that amount. Last Friday, the bank transfer arrived.

 

Nelson, who is often rambling, was speechless. Though it might be one of those few occasions, he remarked, "I'm rarely at a loss for words."

 

Scott, a novelist turned philanthropist with a $38 billion net worth, was ranked as the 18th richest American in 2022 by Forbes. She has committed to giving away the majority of her wealth, plus some. More than 1,200 non-profit groups have received $12 billion in donations from her since 2019. The first school district to win a grant thus far in California, and maybe the entire country, is Fresno Unified.

 

About her donations, Scott's representatives are mum. All questions are directed to Scott's essays on the website Medium, where she lists every beneficiary and outlines her giving ethos. There were no other educational districts listed. The most recent entry was made in March.

 

Scott has donated hundreds of millions of dollars to several well-known charities, including the YMCA-YWCA, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Planned Parenthood, United Ways, and Second Harvest. In California, she supports CSU Northridge and other campuses of the California State University, Long Beach City College, and other community colleges, advocacy and research charities like Learning Policy Institute and NewSchools Venture Fund, Kingmakers of Oakland, which aims to help Black boys reach their full potential, College Track, and the parent empowerment group The Oakland REACH.

 

Nelson doesn't understand why Fresno Unified, the third-largest school system in the state with 76,000 pupils, was selected. Nelson said that Scott's agent had stated, "We've heard via several channels that the work going in Fresno is relevant, worthwhile, and something that we want to support."

 

Nelson stated, "We have to make the connections."

 

According to him, the district's dual enrollment arrangement with Benedict College, an HBCU in South Carolina, and efforts to locate an HBCU in the Central Valley are two initiatives that might have attracted attention. The percentage of Black kids in Fresno Unified is about 8%. The goal of Scott's charitable contributions has been to promote educational parity in higher education.

 

Or possibly, he suggested, it was the district's initiatives to support students' mental health. In August, Gov. Gavin Newsom picked McLane High to support a $4.7 billion initiative to guarantee mental health and drug misuse treatment for Californians up to age 25. With the help of a committed team of psychologists and social workers, McLane High has created a center for mental health.

 

Or, he conjectured, it might have been the district's involvement in the StriveTogether Cradle to Career Network, a national project that Fresno is a part of. Large nonprofit organizations in the city, hospitals, Fresno City College, Fresno State, and Fresno Pacific University are collaborating to enhance the health and educational outcomes for children, especially the percentage of young people pursuing a BA degree, according to Nelson. Jim Shelton, a former deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Education, serves as chief investment and impact officer of Blue Meridian Partners, a philanthropic organization that provides funding to StriveTogether. Scott also contributes money to Blue Meridian.

Don Shalvey, the CEO of San Joaquin A+, an organization trying to improve educational results in Stockton, and a former deputy director of K–12 education at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, speculated that "I assume many of the awards are relationship-driven."

Shalvey expressed his excitement for Fresno and noted how great this was for the Central Valley. Their location and the way they approach finding new ways to satisfy the needs of all students make them special.

You can collect money online for charity. You can also conduct an event in your town to collect money. Give that money to organizations working to serve and support deserving children. You can also directly give that money to deserving children Start your cool deed today by using free cooldeeds.org tools.

 


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