Akron Urban League joins 25 other affiliates with $2.4 million gift from MacKenzie Scott

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The Akron Urban League joins 25 National Urban League affiliates in sharing more than $100 million donated by philanthropist MacKenzie Scott, a novelist and former wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, who has pledged to give away most of her fortune amounting to billions of dollars.

The Akron Urban League's share of the donation is $2.4 million, the largest donation in its 97-year history and close to what the affiliate spent in all of last year.

Recognizing support:Akron Urban League to celebrate community award winners at annual gala

Other nearby affiliates and their shares include $6 million to the Buffalo Urban League, $6.6 million to the Chicago Urban League, $6.5 million to the Columbus Urban League, and $6 million to the Pittsburgh Urban League, all of which also called the gifts their largest ever, according to news reports.

A list of the recipients can be found on the National Urban League's website.

Marc H. Morial, National Urban League President and CEO thanked Scott Tuesday for her "extraordinary generosity and faith in our movement."

“As the nation’s economic first responders, Urban League affiliates are the most effective and impactful engines of empowerment for eliminating racial gaps in our economic and justice systems,” he said.

More:MacKenzie Scott donates millions to Ohio Urban League affiliates

Akron Urban League determining how money will be used

The Akron Urban League called the $2.4 million gift "transformational."

According to details released at its 2022 annual meeting, the Akron Urban League reported revenue of $2.8 million, with expenditures of just over $2.5 million.

The agency in a release said the money would enable it to continue its mission to improve the quality of life of people in Summit County, citing programs that focus on health equity, k-12 and adult education, workforce development, minority-owned businesses, training, and DEI initiatives.

Braylon Solomon, 12, gets a haircut from Brea Forney from Beyond Expectations Barber College as Don Baker II gives a haircut in the background during the Juneteenth  Vax and Vote Blitz at the Akron Urban League in Akron on Friday, June 17, 2022.
Braylon Solomon, 12, gets a haircut from Brea Forney from Beyond Expectations Barber College as Don Baker II gives a haircut in the background during the Juneteenth Vax and Vote Blitz at the Akron Urban League in Akron on Friday, June 17, 2022.

Those programs include:

  • The Akron Minority Business Assistance Center, which helps small disadvantaged, minority-owned and women-owned businesses by helping cultivate their growth and sustainability.

  • The Minority Contractor Capital Access Program, a collaboration between the Western Reserve Community Fund and the Akron Urban League that provides financial and technical assistance to minority, women, LGBTQ+, veteran and disabled-owned businesses in the construction trades.

  • The Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math (STEAM) Academy after school program that works to develops students’ skills in these subjects to increase their academic performance.

  • A scholarship program supported by community groups, corporations, and higher education institutions to provide scholarships.

  • An educational summer camp for children ages 5-12 at Helen Arnold Community Learning Center offering daily classes in math, reading, dance, art, music, physical education, and life skills.

  • Workforce development programs that assist adults age 18 and older in preparing for, finding, maintaining, and advancing employment opportunities.

  • Support for corporate community efforts to find, advance, and retain employees by providing services to help create opportunities.

"By placing racial equity and social justice at the forefront of her philanthropic mission, Ms. Scott is shining a much-needed spotlight on the nation's structural and institutional limitations and showing the significance of the Akron Urban League's efforts to promote and advance economic self-reliance, equity, power, and civil rights for those who have been historically underserved," the Akron affiliate said Tuesday.

Alissa Shivley, director of marketing and communications, said Akron Urban League President and CEO Theresa LeGrair announced the gift at a 9 a.m. meeting with all staff on Tuesday.

"We were all very excited. There were a lot of cheers and a lot of clapping," Shivley said.

"The dollars haven't been earmarked yet, and how they are to be spent is still to be determined," she said. "We'll be working through how we'll allocate these dollars."

The affiliate emphasized that it is still counting on financial assistance from long-term supporters.

"While this gift allows for aspirational planning, it is important that our local investors and partners continue to support the relevant and impactful programmatic efforts our community deserves.”

MacKenzie Scott explains why she is giving away billions

The donations are part of more than $12.8 billion Scott has given away in just over two years, according to Forbes magazine.

According to a Forbes list of the world's billionaires published in April, Scott was the fourth richest woman in the world, with a net worth of $43.6 billion due to her interests in Amazon.

In a 2020 post on her online blog, mackenzie-scott.medium.com, Scott described her decision to support "116 Organizations Driving Change."

MacKenzie Scott
MacKenzie Scott

"Last year I pledged to give the majority of my wealth back to the society that helped generate it, to do it thoughtfully, to get started soon, and to keep at it until the safe is empty," she wrote. "There's no question in my mind that anyone's personal wealth is the product of a collective effort, and of social structures which present opportunities to some people, and obstacles to countless others."

In that post, she listed the National Urban League as one of the organizations she would support.

"The organizations named below offer a daily reminder that we can each carry more than we imagine. And they offer an opportunity to invest our good fortune in change, no matter what form our good fortune has taken," she said.

Eric Marotta can be reached at emarotta@gannett.com. Follow him on Twitter @MarottaEric.

This article originally appeared on Akron Beacon Journal: Akron Urban League gets $2.4 million gift from MacKenzie Scott