United Way of Metro Chicago announces a $25 Million gift from MacKenzie Scott

Gift is the largest in organization’s 80+ year history

Chicago, IL – December 15, 2020 – United Way of Metro Chicago announced the single largest donation in the organization’s history today. MacKenzie Scott donated $25 million to accelerate United Way’s work advancing neighborhood equity and creating communities where children and families can thrive.

“This amazing investment from MacKenzie Scott speaks to the incredible work being done across our community,” said Sean Garrett, President & CEO of United Way of Metro Chicago. “I can’t thank her enough for believing in our commitment to invest in whole families and neighborhoods. With this gift, we can propel our work forward to build back a stronger, more equitable Chicago region for all our neighbors.

This unexpected gift is a strong endorsement of United Way of Metro Chicago’s place-based investment strategy. This support will allow the organization to advance its work in neighborhoods, equity and supporting basic needs in partnership with local communities.

United Way supports a variety of nonprofits throughout the region, with a focus on developing partnerships with community-based nonprofits that can drive the largest impact. United Way of Metro Chicago also strategically invests in 10 neighborhood coalitions through their Neighborhood Network Initiative, which works to reduce economic disparity and create equitable opportunities across the greater Chicago region. While $25 million is only a fraction of the disparity of wealth between Chicago’s most-privileged and disinvested neighborhoods, it does represent significant possibilities for change. United Way of Metro Chicago serves the entire Chicago metropolitan area, including all of Cook and DuPage counties, and extending into the other four local counties.

“This extraordinary gift is a testament to the stellar work United Way of Metro Chicago has done in our communities for the past 80+ years,” said Charles Matthews, President and CEO of Peoples Gas who is serving as United Way’s 2020/2021 Campaign Chair. “More than 47,000 people donate to the organization every year, and this is yet another example of an individual believing in the organization’s vision.”

In March 2020, United Way of Metro Chicago partnered with The Chicago Community Trust with support from the city of Chicago to launch the Chicago Community COVID-19 Response Fund. This effort unites the funds raised by Chicago’s philanthropies, corporations and individuals to be disbursed to nonprofit organizations across the region. As of December, the fund raised more than $35 million and disbursed nearly $30 million to 400+ organizations.

“The Chicago COVID-19 Response Fund has provided critical support to organizations across our region, sustaining their urgent work through this unprecedented time,” said Helene Gayle, President and CEO of The Chicago Community Trust. “United Way of Metro Chicago’s commitment to uplifting Chicago communities has been evident throughout our partnership on the response fund, and I look forward to working with them as they leverage this gift to accelerate our region’s recovery.“

Scott and her team considered almost 6,500 organizations for possible contributions. Her donation to United Way of Metro Chicago is part of the more than $4.1 billion she’s gifted to 384 organizations from all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and Washington D.C. over the last four months. Some of the organizations provide basic needs, such as food banks or emergency relief funds, while others tackle systemic inequities that have been exaggerated during the pandemic like debt relief and education for historically marginalized and underserved people.

“These 384 carefully selected teams have dedicated their lives to helping others, working and volunteering and serving real people face-to-face at bedsides and tables, in prisons and courtrooms and classrooms, on streets and hospital wards and hotlines and frontlines of all types and sizes, day after day after day,” Scott wrote in her Medium piece. “They help by delivering vital services, and also through the profound encouragement felt each time a person is seen, valued, and trusted by another human being.”


About United Way of Metro Chicago
United Way of Metro Chicago brings together businesses, government, nonprofits, and community leaders to deliver funding, resources, and expertise to nonprofit organizations across greater Chicago. We are working alongside our partners at the neighborhood level to tackle the systemic issues that have plagued our region, creating communities where children and families can thrive. United, we’re building stronger neighborhoods for a stronger Chicago region.

About MacKenzie Scott
MacKenzie Scott is an American philanthropist, activist, and novelist. She is also the executive director and founder of Bystander Revolution, an anti-bullying organization. Scott is a member of the Giving Pledge, a movement of philanthropists who commit to giving the majority of their wealth to philanthropy or charitable causes, either during their lifetimes or in their wills.

Media Contacts:
United Way of Metro Chicago – Marilyn Jackson, 312-906-2387, marilyn.jackson@liveunitedchicago.org
Prosper Strategies – Walker Post, 773-597-7504, walker@prosper-strategies.com

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