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Philanthropist MacKenzie Scott recognizes United Way of Northeast Florida with historic gift

December 16, 2020

Largest donation in organization’s 96-year history underscores the organization’s critical role in community


Jacksonville, Fla. (Dec. 16, 2020) – United Way of Northeast Florida announced today it received a $20 million donation from renowned author and philanthropist MacKenzie Scott. This gift is the largest single donation in the organization’s 96-year history and underpins the critical role United Way plays in the community.

“We are humbled by this recognition and the show of confidence Ms. Scott placed in us with this gift – and for raising awareness about the critical issues communities like ours are facing,” said Michelle Braun, president and CEO of United Way of Northeast Florida. “This profound commitment is a testament to the work of our team and our partners – and to the meaningful change we accomplish together.”

United Way of Northeast Florida is one of 384 organizations selected from among 6,940 as a recipient of an exceptional donation from Scott. According to Scott’s announcement, organizations were chosen for their “strong leadership teams and results, with special attention to those operating in communities facing high projected food insecurity, high measures of racial inequity, high local poverty rates, and low access to philanthropic capital.”

United Way and its partners work together to address immediate needs faced by struggling individuals and families, while also making long-term investments that tackle the root causes of these issues.

“The community and our nonprofit partners depend on the annual funding we raise each year from our incredible donors,” said Braun. “Their support for the day-to-day work meeting our community’s needs is how we fuel change. While Ms. Scott’s gift is significant, the needs in our community are great and escalating dramatically during these challenging times. It is our hope this gift will serve as a springboard for more people to get involved because change doesn’t happen alone.”

Over the next few months, United Way will develop its long-term strategy for how to best utilize this extraordinary gift. This will include creating sustainable initiatives for the benefit of our community that effectively address the most pressing issues we face.

“We are honored by the tremendous trust in our organization this generous gift represents,” said Jim Stepnoski, chair of United Way’s board of directors. “It underscores our ongoing leadership and strategic approach to meeting the needs of the most vulnerable in our community. This donation will enhance our ability to deepen that work. We know community change, especially sustainable change, is not easy and doesn’t happen overnight. But, together – standing alongside our donors, partners, volunteers and staff – we know it’s possible.”

For more information on the work of United Way of Northeast Florida and its partners, visit unitedwaynefl.org.