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N.H. Organizations Among Beneficiaries Of Billionaire Mackenzie Scott's Recent Giving Spree

YWCA NH CEO Jessica Cantin (right) at a 2019 press conference with Organization for Refugee and Immigrant Success (ORIS) DirectorMukhtar Idlow and Manchester Mayor Joyce Craig.
Sarah Gibson, NHPR
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YWCA NH CEO Jessica Cantin (right) at a 2019 press conference with Organization for Refugee and Immigrant Success (ORIS) DirectorMukhtar Idlow and Manchester Mayor Joyce Craig.

Two New Hampshire organizations, the YWCA of New Hampshire and the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation, recently received donations from author and philanthropist MacKenzie Scott.

YWCA NH CEO Jessica Cantin says her organization hasn’t yet determined how to channel this unexpected gift, but they’re trying to be thoughtful about how to best use this money at a time when their work is especially urgent.

“We are typically serving the most vulnerable, most at risk, most marginalized in the community, so we will use these funds to be able to deepen our impact and ensure we can grow in our work around racial justice and diversity, equity and inclusion,” Cantin said.

The YWCA NH anticipates sharing more details about their plans for Scott’s donation when they celebrate their 101st anniversary in March. In the meantime, they have been trying to offer support in lots of ways throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Cantin said, including offering digital access to some crisis supports and doing more mobile deliveries.

They’re also trying to support students and families who are dealing with challenges related to remote learning, due to a lack of internet access or other technology, she said.

“We knew that there were these issues in the classrooms and in the schools around being under-resourced and not being able to address the specific needs of these kiddos and families, but I think the pandemic has definitely illuminated that issue even further,” Cantin said.

The New Hampshire Charitable Foundation, which is a financial supporter of NHPR, also received $6 million for its Community Crisis Action Fund, which is geared toward COVID relief. As of September, the foundation distributed more than $9.7 million to different organizations across the state, including YWCA NH.

In total, Scott — who was previously married to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos — says she donated more than $4 billion to 384 organizations across the country in the last four months. Bloomberg News offered the following perspective on the scale of her charitable giving: “Scott’s gifts this year approach $6 billion, which ‘has to be one of the biggest annual distributions by a living individual’ to working charities, according to Melissa Berman, chief executive officer of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors.”

Casey McDermott is an editor and reporter at New Hampshire Public Radio, where she works with colleagues across the newsroom to deepen the station’s accountability coverage, data journalism and audience engagement across platforms.

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