Jeff Bezos accepts philanthropy award as ex-wife Mackenzie Scott continues outpacing his donations

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Jeff Bezos and girlfriend Lauren Sanchez were spotted in Italy this week as the Amazon CEO accepted an award at the Vatican for his philanthropy work – while ex-wife Mackenzie Scott donated a stunning $84.5 million to Girl Scouts USA. 

Bezos received Galileo Prophets of Philanthropy Award for his work in donating to causes, and Sanchez said she was ‘so proud’ of him in an Instagram post. 

Meanwhile Scott, Bezos’ ex-wife of 25 years, continued her philanthropic spree by forking over $84.5 million to Girl Scout USA this week – the largest donation they have ever received. 

Though Bezos gives to a wide range of organizations, including a recent venture in preserving the Congo Basin in Africa, he has only donated $2.4 billion in his lifetime – a fifth of what his ex-wife has given away, despite having more than quadruple her net worth.

Since 2020, Scott has donated a whopping $12.8 billion to over 1,200 organizations, which is a faster pace of philanthropy than anyone else in modern history. 

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and girlfriend Lauren Sanchez were seen strolling around Rome this week before Bezos accepted a philanthropy award from the Vatican 

Bezos reportedly had an affair with Sanchez while he was with ex-wife Mackenzie Scott, and the two went public with their relationship after going through their respective divorces

Bezos reportedly had an affair with Sanchez while he was with ex-wife Mackenzie Scott, and the two went public with their relationship after going through their respective divorces

Bezos and Scott met while they were both working for D. E. Shaw in 1992, and have four children together

Bezos and Scott met while they were both working for D. E. Shaw in 1992, and have four children together

The two divorced in 2019 and Bezos, one of the world’s richest people, parted with 4% of Amazon’s stock – which meant Scott received around $36 billion. 

During his speech at the award ceremony, Bezos said he ‘cannot think of a better place to confront the problems we face today than here.’

He spoke mainly about problems facing the planet, and said ‘the journey we are on to solve them will require the best of science and leadership.’

He listed off many technical advances humans have made in modern history, including ‘leaps and bounds’ made in technology. 

‘Computation efficiency has improved by a factor of many millions,’ he declared. ‘The cost of solar power has fallen 99 percent since 1979.’

He attempted to bridge the gap between religion and science: ‘Earth is a paradise, and we must protect it. His Holiness Pope Francis has emphasized this same theme in his encyclical when he refers to Earth as “our common home” and describes the imperative to care for it.’ 

He spoke about finding ‘the most sustainable solution’ that would ‘solve the problem not just in the moment but forever after.’

But Scott seems to be willing to part with her fortunate to solve the problems far more than Bezos is. 

Bezos and Scott met while they were both working for D. E. Shaw in 1992. They married one year later, and welcomed four children together – before splitting in 2019 after it was reported that he was having an affair with Sanchez. 

She made a $275 million donation to Planned Parenthood earlier this year, and the $84.5 million she will give to Girl Scout USA will help the struggling organization.

The funds will help the organization recover from the impact of the pandemic, which drove down membership.

‘Her support of our organization means honestly just as much as the donation,’ Sofia Chang, CEO of Girl Scouts USA, said in an interview. 

Youth membership of the Girl Scouts fell dramatically during the pandemic, dropping nearly 30% – and the donation will help the organization get back to previous membership rates 

Sofia Chang, CEO of Girl Scouts USA, said 'Her support of our organization means honestly just as much as the donation'

Sofia Chang, CEO of Girl Scouts USA, said ‘Her support of our organization means honestly just as much as the donation’

Her generous donation comes after she filed for divorce from science teacher Dan Jewett a month ago, less than two years after beginning the marriage and philanthropic partnership. 

Scott and Jewett, 47, were rarely seen together, and he quietly resigned from his teaching job at a private high school in Washington last year, saying he did not want to create a distraction there.

The split was revealed when Jewett’s name was removed from Scott’s page on the website for the Giving Pledge, an initiative that asks billionaires to give away at least half of their wealth in their lifetime. 

The former couple had jointly written on the site last year about their intention to give away Scott’s fortune, which largely comes from her divorce from Bezos. 

The Girl Scout council in Southern Arizona decided to use the $1.4 million it received from Scott to elevate the work they are already doing rather than to start a new program or initiative, said its CEO Kristen Garcia-Hernandez.

Scott, seen here with Jewett, recently divorced from the science teacher after they pledged to donate much of her fortune together

Scott, seen here with Jewett, recently divorced from the science teacher after they pledged to donate much of her fortune together

Philanthropic giving to organizations that specifically serve women and girls represents less than 2% of all donations, according to research

Philanthropic giving to organizations that specifically serve women and girls represents less than 2% of all donations, according to research

‘We are a small council and we’re certainly not in a major metropolitan hub. So for us, gifts of this magnitude don’t come around very often,’ Garcia-Hernandez said.

MACKENZIE SCOTT’S RECENT DONATIONS 

Mackenzie Scott has donated about $12 billion over the last two years

Her recent donations include: 

  • Girl Scouts USA: $84.5 million 
  • California Community Foundation: $55 million properties
  • Spelman College, the historically Black, all-women’s school: $20 million
  • Boys & Girls Club of America: $281 million
  • Communities in Schools: $133.5 million
  • National 4-H Youth Council: $50 million 
  • Collaborative for Gender + Reproductive Equity: $25 million
  • Meharry Medical College: $20 million
  • Guttmacher Institute: $15 million
  • Jed Foundation: $15 million 
  • Leading Educators: $10 million
  • The National Council on Aging: $8 million 
  • Shatterproof: $5 million
  • Young People in Recovery: $3 million  

The gift accelerates their plan to hire more staff to reach most places in the seven counties they serve in under an hour and provide programming year-round. 

The council will also outfit a van as a mobile science and technology classroom, a project they have tried to fund for a year and a half. 

Many local funders seem to think that the Girl Scout’s cookie sales cover their expenses, she said.

‘While the cookie program sustains us certainly and it´s wonderful and the girls are part of that process, which makes it even more beautiful, we certainly need more from the community,’ Garcia-Hernandez said.

Philanthropic giving to organizations that specifically serve women and girls represents less than 2% of all donations, according to research. 

It found that proportion has not changed significantly between 2012 and 2019, the years the study has tracked.

Tessa Skidmore, research associate at the institute, said major gifts from women like philanthropists Melinda French Gates, Sheryl Sandberg and Scott could inspire other donors.

‘Those are the types of things that have the potential to change that number,’ she said.

The institute partnered with Pivotal Ventures, the investment firm founded by French Gates, and others to promote giving to women and girls on the International Day of the Girl, marked on Oct. 11 each year. 

It also shares its giving data in the hopes that donors or researchers will use it as one way to evaluate gender equity in donations.

Scott communicates infrequently about her giving, which has totaled around $12 billion since 2019. 

While many people often think the sale of cookies funds the Girl Scouts, local troop leaders have said the organization needs more outside investment to survive

While many people often think the sale of cookies funds the Girl Scouts, local troop leaders have said the organization needs more outside investment to survive

She has donated large, unrestricted grants to many different kinds of organizations, though her gifts have had a special focus on racial equity. 

Scott also made a blockbuster $275 million gift to the Planned Parenthood Federation of America and its affiliates this year.

Youth membership of the Girl Scouts fell dramatically during the pandemic, dropping nearly 30% from about 1.4 million in 2019- 2020 to just over 1 million in 2021-2022. 

Chang acknowledged the drop but made the case that the organization’s programs consistently help girls build confidence and tackle problems in their community.

‘Our traditional way of supporting girls was really upended during the pandemic as troops couldn’t really meet in person,’ Chang said. 

‘So to build back stronger than we ever had before, we’re really listening to our Girl Scouts, listening to their families and to our volunteers to really ensure that what comes next for us is truly impactful in this moment.’

The Girl Scouts plan to support volunteers and staff, make camp properties more resistant to the impacts of climate change, improve science and technology education for youth members and develop diversity and inclusion programming to make their troops more accessible.’



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