Just in time for the holidays, YWCA Walla Walla was surprised by an unsolicited, unrestricted gift of $1 million from philanthropist MacKenzie Scott. She announced her gift in a blog post on Medium Tuesday morning.
Scott described a rigorous review process focused on nonprofits serving populations with “high projected food insecurity, high measures of racial inequity, high local poverty rates, and low access to philanthropic capital.” In the post, Scott called the pandemic “a wrecking ball in the lives of Americans already struggling.”
YWCA Walla Walla was one of 384 organizations to receive grants from Scott, and one of nine in Washington state. “I was and still am quite stunned by this,” said Executive Director Anne-Marie Zell Schwerin. “Gifts of this size and of this nature are rare.”
Scott, whose 2020 giving has approached $6 billion, said of the selection process, “We do this research and deeper diligence not only to identify organizations with high potential for impact, but also to pave the way for unsolicited and unexpected gifts given with full trust and no strings attached.”
“I believe that the strong and constant support of our community,”, Schwerin said, “is what put our YWCA in a position to even be considered for such an amazing gift.”
Over the next few months, the Board of Directors will dedicate time to make thoughtful decisions on how to invest the dollars to further our mission and work, in alignment with strategic and long-term plans.
Scott’s gift could not have come at a better time, Schwerin said.
While the YWCA navigates the challenges of COVID 19, and addresses potential threats to federal funding, gender-based violence is on the rise, making safe shelter more critical than ever.
“We are grateful to MacKenzie Scott, not only for her confidence in our organization,” said Schwerin, “but also for the thoughtfulness she brings to her philanthropic decisions. Her gift shows the women we serve that they deserve to live with dignity, free from violence and discrimination.”