Knoxville organizations respond to MacKenzie Scott’s major donations

Non-profit leaders were thrilled to see one of the the largest one time gifts given to three East Tennessee organizations.
Published: Dec. 16, 2020 at 6:40 PM EST
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Non-profit leaders were thrilled to see one of the the largest one time gifts given to three East Tennessee organizations. All thanks to Jeff Bezos’ ex-wife, philantropist MacKenzie Scott.

The United Way of Greater Knoxville earned $10 million, the Second Harvest Food Bank of East Tennessee was awarded nine million dollars and the YWCA of Knoxville and the Tennessee Valley awarded a sum of money they did not want to disclose.

“It’s humbling. It’s exciting. It feels like a major endorsement of our work and probably much more importantly our community,” said Matt Ryerson, President and CEO of United Way of Greater Knoxville.

The $10 million will be used for housing, homelessness, childcare, diversity and equity, access to healthy food and community development.

“It’s one of those once in a career gifts,” said Ryerson, “So it’s an exciting day for sure.”

“It’s a monumental gift it will be something that takes us through years,” said Elaine Streno, Executive Director of Second Harvest Food Bank.

After more than two million dollars was raised during their recent double your donations day drive, Second Harvest was buzzing with excitement.

“It will have historic impact the strategic planning we’ll be able to implement the lack of fear of are we going to have this funding and we’re going to do this wisely we are going to invest a portion of it so we’ll be able to receive it back,” said Streno.

More than thousands of people will be impacted from Scott’s donation given to the YWCA.

“Just really thrilled to be receiving this gift and to be recognized alongside 383 other organizations doing incredible work we feel so honored to be just spotlighted alongside them,” said Rachel Haverkamp, the interim CEO of the YWCA.

Women will have safe housing and advocacy resources for domestic violence situations.

“To receive this gift is such a reassurance,” explained Haverkamp. “But we know that the need will continue to grow as it always does. And so we will continue to rely on our Knoxville community for support to carry out this mission of eliminating racism and empowering women and being a safe place for everyone.”

The YWCA will talk with their board of directors before deciding to share how much it was.

“We would like to see this gift continue to have an impact for a long period of time,” said Haverkamp.

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