Billionaire philanthropist MacKenzie Scott donates $8 million to Mary Black Foundation

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Molly Talbot-Metz doesn't exactly know how Mary Black Foundation landed on the radar of a Billionaire philanthropist.

However, after receiving a recent $8 million donation from MacKenzie Scott, she believes Spartanburg's culture of giving and its commitment to community initiatives had a lot to do with it.

"Amazing things are happening here in Spartanburg. A lot of things have received national attention like the Northside initiative and the Spartanburg Academic Movement," said Talbot-Metz, President & CEO for Mary Black Foundation. "It says a lot about this community that we attract the interest of national funders."

The Mary Black Foundation, which formed over 25 years ago, has provided over $65 million in grants. Early childhood education, accessible and affordable healthcare and safe and supportive neighborhoods are among the foundation's key initiatives.

Molly Talbot-Metz
Molly Talbot-Metz

With the funding from Scott, the foundation said it plans to develop a strategic initiative to "advance health equity, expand investing and increase grantmaking."

"Our core mission is to improve the health and wellness of the community," Talbot-Metz said. "We typically look at that through early childhood education, healthy eating and active living. We will form a small committee and form strategies (for use of the funds) over the next several months."

Talbot-Metz said foundation leaders spoke with Scott's representatives over Zoom several months ago after receiving an email about a then-unknown philanthropist's interest in their efforts. She said the foundation didn't find out Scott was the philanthropist until a month ago.

"We talked for an hour, and they said, 'You may never hear from us again or you'll hear directly from the donor.' About a month ago, we found out we were selected and started working with the donor (Scott) to make everything happen. It's unique that she does this research and then they really trust the organizations to use the funds as they see best fit."

FILE - In this March 4, 2018 file photo, then-MacKenzie Bezos arrives at the Vanity Fair Oscar Party in Beverly Hills, Calif.  Scott, ex-wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, this week donated $4.2 billion to organizations across the country, including $10 million to the United Way of Palm Beach County. The donation makes it the largest gift in the non-profit's 91-year history.  Scott said she wants to help people suffering from the economic effects of the pandemic. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File)

More about MacKenzie Scott

Since pledging to give away most of her wealth in 2019, Scott, the ex-wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, has donated an estimated $12 billion to more than 1,200 nonprofit organizations.

The writer and philanthropist revealed in March she has handed over $3.9 billion to hundreds of organizations in the last nine months alone, funding areas such as climate and education, as well as Ukraine relief efforts. Scott donated $122 million to Big Brothers Big Sisters of America in May.

MacKenzie Scott:MacKenzie Scott has donated more than $12 billion. Here's where some of the money has gone.

Scott, donated $2.7 billion to 286 charities in 2021. Even after her multibillion-dollar donations, Forbes magazine estimates Scott's net worth at $29.8 billion.

In 2021, the YMCA of Greater Spartanburg announced a "seven-figure gift" from Scott, the largest gift the organization has ever received.

“The amazing thing about Ms. Scott’s philanthropy is that she trusts those of us working within communities to know the unique needs of our residents and to develop the most effective solutions,” said Talbot-Metz. “The funding will allow us to accelerate our work to ensure that all people in Spartanburg County have the opportunities to achieve health and wellbeing.”

Gregg Wade, the Foundation’s Board chair, noted: “Ms. Scott and her team thoroughly researched our organization and its financials, leadership, and strategic plan before making their decision. It is a testament to our current and former staff and Board of Trustees that the Foundation was chosen for this tremendous gift.”

Gabe Whisnant is the news director for the Spartanburg Herald-Journal. Reach him via email at

USA Today's Amanda Pérez Pintado contributed to this story.

This article originally appeared on Herald-Journal: Billionaire MacKenzie Scott donates millions to Mary Black Foundation