MacKenzie Scott and Jeff Bezos met in 1992. Scott was an administrative assistant and Bezos was a vice president at the hedge fund D.E. Shaw. She asked him to lunch, and by 1993, they were married. A year later, they quit their jobs and moved from New York to Seattle, where they started Amazon while living in a one-bedroom rental.
However, after 25 years of marriage and four children, the couple divorced in 2019. Even though she granted her ex-husband 75% of the Amazon stock co-owned by the pair, Scott still walked away as the world’s 18th richest person, with a $60.7 billion net worth.
In May of that year, she joined The Giving Pledge, a movement of the world’s wealthiest philanthropists.
“We each come by the gifts we have to offer by an infinite series of influences and lucky breaks we can never fully understand,” she wrote in her pledge. “In addition to whatever assets life has nurtured in me, I have a disproportionate amount of money to share. My approach to philanthropy will continue to be thoughtful. It will take time and effort and care. But I won’t wait. And I will keep at it until the safe is empty.”
Scott, who is 50, did not hesitate to begin, donating more than $4 billion in the first four months. In July 2020, she followed up with a post on Medium about nonprofit organizations she had selected to help, noting that she would no longer be going by the surname “Bezos,” but by her new last name after her grandfather Scott.
“Following up on the commitment I made last year to give away the majority of my wealth in my lifetime,” she tweeted.
Following up on the commitment I made last year to give away the majority of my wealth in my lifetime: https://t.co/Ocb8eU5UR1. (Note my Medium account is under my new last name — changed back to middle name I grew up with, after my grandfather Scott.)
— MacKenzie Scott (@mackenziescott) July 28, 2020
In the post, Scott broke down donations by area, donating billions of dollars to organizations focused on racial, LGBTQ+ and gender equity, public health, climate change and more.
This week, she posted an update explaining that, following her July article, she asked her advisory team to help her accelerate giving to help people suffering the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The result over the last four months has been $4,158,500,000 in gifts to 384 organizations across all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and Washington D.C.,” she wrote. “Some are filling basic needs: food banks, emergency relief funds, and support services for those most vulnerable. Others are addressing long-term systemic inequities that have been deepened by the crisis: debt relief, employment training, credit and financial services for under-resourced communities, education for historically marginalized and underserved people, civil rights advocacy groups, and legal defense funds that take on institutional discrimination.”
Scott said she is far from completing her pledge and encourages others to use their time, voice or money to help others. You can find a list of the 384 organizations she supported on her Medium post.
“Our hopes are fed by others,” she wrote.