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Dozens of Bay Area Arts, Social Justice Groups Get Huge Donations From MacKenzie Scott

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Women's Audio Mission instructor Victoria Farjado leads a Girls on the Mic class at WAM's Oakland location.
Women's Audio Mission instructor Victoria Farjado leads a Girls on the Mic class at WAM's Oakland location in April 2018. (Nastia Voynovskaya)

Updated June 23 to include a correction. See below.

This week, extremely rich human MacKenzie Scott leaned into her fairly new role as a philanthropic superhero by giving away $2.7 billion to 286 worthy organizations—many of them in the Bay Area.

Scott, who was born and raised in San Francisco, committed to donating at least half of her wealth after she was awarded a 4% stake in Amazon during her 2019 divorce from Jeff Bezos. The novelist, who was married to the Amazon founder for 25 years, gave almost $6 billion to nonprofits in 2020 as well.

This week, Scott made charitable contributions to a huge variety of Bay Area organizations: social justice collectives, healthcare providers, academic institutions and arts groups. In a Medium blog posted on Tuesday, Scott expressed her belief that “social structures that inflate wealth present obstacles to them.”

She also noted:

Arts and cultural institutions can strengthen communities by transforming spaces, fostering empathy, reflecting community identity, advancing economic mobility, improving academic outcomes, lowering crime rates, and improving mental health, so we evaluated smaller arts organizations creating these benefits with artists and audiences from culturally rich regions and identity groups that donors often overlook.

San Francisco’s Women’s Audio Mission, a nonprofit dedicated to the advancement of women and girls in music production, was one of many local groups to receive a million dollars. Founder and executive director Terri Winston described the biggest single donation in the organization’s history as “transformational.”


“At this moment in our country, it is incredibly important to include and amplify the voices of women, girls and gender-expansive folks, especially in the production of the music and messages in the soundtrack of our lives,” Winston wrote in a press release, adding that the money will support the organization’s expansion into Los Angeles and Nashville. “[Scott’s] investment in WAM will allow us to expand nationally to other music hubs and bring our award-winning training and mentoring programs to thousands of women and girls.”

MacKenzie Scott: The face of a human who's making her ex-husband look terrible in public. (And, you know, helping people...)
MacKenzie Scott, a human who’s making her ex-husband look terrible in public. (And, you know, helping people…) (Facebook/ @Mackenzie.Scott2020)

Los Cenzontles Cultural Arts Academy in Richmond was another organization that received a million dollar donation. Academy president Marco Gonzales said, “This remarkable gift will help stabilize our organization and hopefully attract additional investment that supports our mission and our community.” The Academy is a Latino-led, artist-driven, nonprofit dedicated to Mexican American community and arts.

The long list of Bay Area organizations that received donations from MacKenzie Scott this week is as follows:

San Francisco

Menlo Park



No word yet on whether his ex-wife’s commitment to being awesome has had any effect on Jeff Bezos’ commitment to being a supervillain.

Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly listed Kepler’s Literary Foundation in Menlo Park as a recipient of these funds. The organization receiving the funds is Kepler, based in Rwanda. KQED regrets the error.

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