A variety of faith-based organizations were among 286 recipients of $2.7 billion in grants announced Tuesday, June 15, by philanthropist MacKenzie Scott.
Scott revealed that she and her husband Dan Jewett spent the first quarter of 2021 identifying and evaluating equity-oriented non-profit teams working in areas that have been neglected. They then decided to give away $2,739,000,000 in gifts to 286 high-impact organizations in categories and communities that have been historically underfunded and overlooked.
The philanthropist, who Forbes estimates is worth roughly $60 billion, has grown since she divorced Amazon founder Jeff Bezos in 2019 and walked away with a 4% stake in Amazon.
“Sitting down to write this post, I felt stuck. I want to de-emphasize privileged voices and cede focus to others, yet I know some media stories will focus on wealth. The headline I would wish for this post is “286 Teams Empowering Voices the World Needs to Hear,” she wrote in a blog post.
She and Jewett prioritized organizations with local teams, leaders of color, and focused on empowering women and girls. Faith in Action, Faith in Public Life, HIAS, Repair the World, Inner-City Muslim Action Network, Muslim Advocates, Pillars Fund, Homeboy Industries, and Repairers of the Breach were a few of the faith organizations that received funding.
Here’s what a few of each organization leader had to say about the gift received:
The Rev. Jennifer Butler, chief executive officer of Faith in Public Life discovered two weeks ago about the donation but was told it would be through an anonymous donor. However, she was later told by Scott and her husband when they disclosed the funding.
Butler told Religion News Service she was floored and in tears by the “amount of trust that they put in the organizations that they’re investing in.” She wouldn’t disclose how much money Faith in Public Life was granted, but she said it was a “significant multimillion-dollar gift.”
She reported that Faith and Public Life serves about 50,000 religious leaders, having connections in Florida, Georgia, and Ohio. The organization has worked to combat Christian nationalism and the religious right. “We’re working across the Black belt of Georgia. We’re working in communities hit hard by the opioid crisis in Ohio. We will continue to build out in additional space and deepen the networks where we’re already organizing to work for just policies and to challenge racism,” Butler told RNS.
President and CEO of HIAS, Mark Hetfield, an international Jewish humanitarian organization, says that the money will help in HAIS transformation from a Jewish refugee resettlement agency to an organization that can further assist refugees wherever they may be.
He said, “Whether it’s helping them be protected from being deported to a place where they would be in danger, whether it’s preventing sexual and gender-based violence among refugee populations, or whether it’s helping to ensure that they can support themselves.”
Muslim Advocates Executive Director Farhana Khera said that the money will, “secure the rights of Muslims and all people.” She is grateful to be included because “Muslims often get left out of conversations about civil rights and the future of our democracy.”