In the Fall of 2021 multi-billionaire Mackenzie Scott, former wife of Jeff Bezos, made headlines in her quest to give away $6 billion. Her philanthropy has entered the news cycle again in a discussion as she donated another $2.74 billion to 286 organizations
I applaud Mackenzie Scott not because of the amount of money, but because unlike other billionaires who have proclaimed their selflessness through foundations and buildings made in their names, Ms. Scott had the foresight to know that she doesn’t know everything. She understands that there are literally tens of thousands of organizations out there that are already doing good work. She is self-aware enough to know that she is not an expert in education, dance, or racial injustice. Rather than hire researchers and design her own solutions to complex problems about which she has not spent a lifetime studying, she asked her staff to develop a list of organizations that impact the community. In particular, Scott writes in her blog post on Medium that “we are governed by a humbling belief that it would be better if disproportionate wealth were not concentrated in a small number of hands, and that the solutions are best designed and implemented by others.”
In a time in which the richest of our land seem to be remarkably out of touch with reality, it is refreshing to see someone who understands the impact of education. Amongst the organizations that received money are the University of California at Merced, El Paso Community College, the YMCA of Metropolitan Detroit, the University of Central Florida, the University of Texas at San Antonio, and Long Beach City College in California. The money is likely to have a lasting impact for students at these institutions.
While as my regular readers know, I would prefer that the general inequity is reduced through taxes and that the government provide more for our society and eliminate the need for individual donations. Still, until we have a political class that is willing to take serious steps towards equality, Ms. Scott provides a lesson for the elite who give: give what you can to organizations that are already transforming society AND give without strings. It isn’t about you, it’s about the world beyond you.