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'World's most powerful woman' MacKenzie Scott gives $9 million to Dallas charity

'World's most powerful woman' MacKenzie Scott gives Dallas charity $9M

Mackenzie Scott Bezos
She is making good on her promise to give half her wealth away. Photo by Michael Kovac/Getty Images

Philanthropist and author MacKenzie Scott has gifted Dallas Area Habitat for Humanity $9 million, the largest unrestricted donation in its 36-year history, the organization revealed March 22.

Scott — who is also well known as the ex-wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos — donated to Habitat for Humanity International and 83 of its U.S. Habitat affiliate organizations in a grand sum of $436 million, according to a press release. (Houston Habitat for Humanity received $11 million.)

“This generous and unexpected gift from MacKenzie Scott will ensure that we can go much further and faster in our efforts to serve our mission,” said Dave Crawford, Dallas Area Habitat for Humanity CEO, in a statement. “As the cost of land continues to dramatically rise across our region, a gift of this magnitude ensures we are able to make significant land investments that will help keep the cost of homes within reach for thousands of Dallas residents. We are immensely grateful to Ms. Scott, and our hope is that this donation inspires others to take a look at how their gifts to Dallas Habitat can build on this momentum, and this new $9 million fertile ground.”

Dallas Habitat provides financial education and affordable homes for lower-income Dallas families to purchase. The nonprofit has served more than 2,100 low-income families since its founding in 1986, resulting in an investment of nearly $200 million in more than 25 Dallas area neighborhoods.

According to the release, over the next several years, Dallas Habitat will use the $9 million donation to purchase and develop land in areas where it currently builds, such as the Joppa and West Dallas neighborhoods, and potentially new areas that, until now, were unattainable for the organization.

"Securing land as well as investing in innovative financial literacy programs are how Dallas Habitat can help ensure that as costs around us increase, the organization will remain in a position to keep Habitat homes affordable, and Dallas families achieving their dreams of homeownership," they say in the release. 

Programs also help address the homeownership gap for people of color. More than 90 percent of Houston Habitat homeowners are African American and Hispanic, as are the neighborhoods in which the organization works, per press materials.

On a national scope, “Habitat works to break down barriers and bring people together — to tear down obstacles and build a world where everyone, no matter who we are or where we come from, has a decent place to live,” says Habitat for Humanity International CEO Jonathan Reckford. “This incredible gift helps make that work possible.”

Scott’s gift comes at a crucial time for Dallas, the local organization adds, noting that Dallas County has an approximate 20,000 affordable housing shortage.

"Dallas Habitat relies on the generosity of donors and volunteers to come alongside them to not only build homes," they say, "but also invest in financial education programs for Dallas residents, as well as advocate for systemic changes that will make housing more affordable and accessible for every deserving Dallas family, for generations to come."

Since her divorce from Bezos in 2019, Scott has been on a roll philanthropically. In December 2020, she donated $50 million to Prairie View A&M University and in 2021, she gifted millions to charity groups across the city and state. Last year, Forbes named her the World’s Most Powerful Woman.

“I have a disproportionate amount of money to share,” Scott wrote in 2019 when she promised to give away at least half her wealth to charitable causes. “I will keep at it until the safe is empty.”