Feb. 16, 2022
MacKenzie Scott’s Impact with United Way of Southeast Louisiana
Scott’s transformational gifts help 46 United Ways tackle crisis needs and systemic change
One year after author and billionaire philanthropist MacKenzie Scott used her Medium blog to launch a new brand of giving, United Way of Southeast Louisiana (UWSELA) was one of 46 United Ways that joined forces to demonstrate the collective power of her gifts across the country.
In a Medium post, The United 46: One Year Later, the United Ways chronicle the impact of Scott’s giving across their local communities, which range from urban to suburban to rural. From providing basic needs and rebuilding supports in the aftermath of natural disasters to tackling systemic inequities by bolstering Black-led businesses and nonprofits and stabilizing vulnerable critical sectors such as child care, Scott is helping build stronger, more equitable communities, according to the blog post.
“Her giving allowed us to accelerate projects, dream up innovative ideas, and leverage the funds with purpose – just as she hoped,” reads the United Way 46 blog post. “Thank you to Ms. Scott for seeing us for who we are … innovative change-makers implicitly focused on equity and inclusion.”
At UWSELA, Scott’s $10 million gift has already had a tangible impact on the community, improving life for those facing the greatest need – families struggling to make ends meet, including ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) and households in poverty. A recent study shows these households were especially hard hit throughout the pandemic, losing employment income at a markedly higher rate than middle class and high-income families.
With the cushion of Scott’s significant financial support, UWSELA made year-one investments to address both emerging and long-standing community issues by:
- Offering rent and mortgage assistance
- Creating United for Early Care and Education to provide technical and legal support to child care centers, with a focus on the Payroll Protection Program (PPP)
- Providing one-time unrestricted funding to 61 community partners to help offset COVID-19 impacts
- Opening the Northshore Prosperity Center, a one-stop financial capability center offering an array of programming to area residents, including financial education and coaching, credit building and counseling, benefits screening, and income tax assistance
- Increasing investments in the Louisiana Prisoner Reentry Initiative and New Orleans Campaign for Grade-Level Reading
View UWSELA's full year-one investment report.
“We were humbled by the faith Ms. Scott placed in us to achieve results and our team set out immediately to maximize this gift for vulnerable families for years to come,” said Michael Williamson, UWSELA president and CEO. “We invite others to follow MacKenzie’s lead and provide our struggling neighbors hope by investing in United Way for the common good.”
In addition to the on-the-ground action these United Ways took, Scott’s gift also sparked a learning community among these 46 United Ways. Singled out by Scott for their strong leadership and results, this cohort has swapped insights and learnings as they put Scott’s gift into action.
“As Ms. Scott wrote, her gifts are already creating a value beyond what was initially imagined,” said Williamson. “And we’re just getting started.”