Philanthropist MacKenzie Scott Gives CMSD What May Be Its ‘Largest Private Donation Ever!’

NOVELIST AND PHILANTHROPIST MACKENZIE SCOTT, By Justin Phillips, Posted December 5th 2022

Billionaire philanthropist MacKenzie Scott has unexpectedly donated $20 million to the Cleveland Metropolitan School District.

It’s the largest donation in at least two decades to the district, and “might be its largest private donation ever,” reads a Tuesday news release. It “came as a surprise” to the district, which did not request the money from Scott’s foundation.

That district plans to spend the money in five installments of $4 million on opportunities for students and educators — like student travel for college visits and teacher tuition and training — and one-time improvements like athletic equipment, musical instruments and science labs, according to the release. It will create a special fund administered by The Cleveland Foundation.

The district reported revenue totaling about $1 billion for the 2021-22 school year, according to its budget.

Board of Education members were asked to approve the gift during their regular Tuesday evening meeting.

“We are very grateful for this incredible gift,” district CEO Eric Gordon is quoted in the release. “It will give our scholars exposure to travel and other experiences that will broaden their world view and make their education more meaningful. We also will be able to invest more deeply in professional development for staff and make improvements in facilities and equipment.”

Scott’s donation to the school district is part of nearly $2 billion given to more than 300 other organizations in the last seven months, aimed at helping underserved communities, according to a blog post by Scott.


Scott announced in 2020 she had donated more than $4 billion over four months to charity. She said the coronavirus pandemic acted as a “wrecking ball” to Americans’ lives that also “substantially increased the wealth of billionaires,” including her former husband, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.

As of this past spring, Scott had given nearly $13 billion to nonprofits across the country, according to a news release from the Center for Effective Philanthropy.

“It’s appropriate that CMSD is announcing this amazingly generous gift the week of Thanksgiving,” Helen Williams, Cleveland Foundation program director for education, is quoted in the release. “The fact that the District was selected — and did not apply — for this transformative grant speaks volumes about the work Eric Gordon and his team have done putting students and staff first for more than a decade.”

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