Big Brothers Big Sisters of America (BBBSA), the preeminent leader in one-to-one youth mentoring in the United States, announced its aim to transform mentorship in communities across the country with an unprecedented gift of $122.6 million.
The gift, from philanthropist MacKenzie Scott, awarded to BBBSA and 38 local agencies, supports the organization in furthering its mission to ensure every young person has access to powerful mentoring experiences that empower them for success in school, life and career.
MacKenzie Scott, an award-winning novelist, started the Amazon company with Jeff Bezos. They divorced in 2019. Scott has a fortune in excess of $41.2 billion and has vowed to give at least half of that away to good causes. She has already given billions of dollars to organizations that range from the Children’s Defense Fund to Habitat for Humanity, from Black colleges to Planned Parenthood.
Today, nearly 11 million kids live in poverty and more than 13 million young people experience emotional, behavioral, or developmental conditions like depression. And during the height of the pandemic, 20 percent of youth served by Big Brothers Big Sisters lost contact with an important adult in their lives.
Scott’s gift will support in expanding the organization’s ability to match more young people with caring, adult mentors –allowing for more staff, resources, and training– and assist BBBSA in closing the gap on the estimated one in three youth who lack a positive, sustained mentor in their lives.
“For over 100 years, Big Brothers Big Sisters has delivered on our powerful mission – to inspire youth equity and empower kids to reach their full potential with a caring mentor by their side,” said Artis Stevens, president and CEO, BBBSA. “We are incredibly grateful and humbled by MacKenzie’s generosity and acknowledgement of the incredible work of our passionate professionals and volunteers who are unwavering in their commitment to create meaningful outcomes for young people today and for generations to come.”
This unprecedented investment is the largest donation from a single individual in the organization’s history and serves as a catalyst to create more innovative mentoring solutions for all kids from all backgrounds. In supporting BBBSA’s vision to expand its mentoring model, the organization aims to create greater access to mentoring experiences by building stronger alliances with other nonprofits, educational and civic organizations, delivering mentoring strategies that account for the uniqueness and differences of kids today, and attracting families and volunteers in turnkey ways that meet them where they are in life.
“Mentoring is an integral part of the solution in preparing youth for life and career, building positive relationships and essential skills for life changing outcomes including post-secondary readiness, social emotional learning, and a stronger sense of belonging and inclusion,” said Stevens. “We know that no one person, organization or gift can do this work alone, but one person—no matter their background—can make an incredible difference through positive and inspired action. MacKenzie’s investment and belief in Big Brothers Big Sisters shows this on a large-scale and we are confident that her gift will compel more people to help grow the village of mentors, volunteers, and donors needed to positively impact young people’s lives today and well into the future.”
Illustration: MacKenzie Scott was featured on the cover of Lifestyles Magazine/Meaningful Influence