Philanthropists MacKenzie Scott and her husband Dan Jewett made headlines around the world today (June 15) by issuing $2.74 billion in donations to nearly 300 organizations, many of them non-profit groups and those fighting for racial justice. Included on the list was ZUMIX, the East Boston music- and arts-based youth organization, which received a surprise gift of $1 million.
Scott detailed the reasons for the donations, and its recipients, in a post on Medium. ZUMIX, which celebrated its 30th anniversary in April, says it will invest the funds in establishing long-term financial stability.
“Young people and families in our community of East Boston have disproportionately been set back by the effects of the pandemic and need programs like ZUMIX to bolster their emotional, creative, and educational well-being,” says ZUMIX Co-Founder and Executive Director Madeleine Steczynski in a statement. “The last year has shown us that the next generation of creative leaders in Boston needs to be prepared, engaged, and empowered, and this gift positions ZUMIX to evolve to meet their needs.”
Scott, the ex-wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, has been making a habit of giving away her fortune after their 2019 divorce. Upon the couple’s split, she received four percent of Amazon’s stock, according to the New York Times, which was valued two years ago at $36 billion. She has given away nearly a quarter of that already, but her wealth continues to grow as Amazon’s stock continues to soar. According to the paper, Forbes recently estimated her net worth to be roughly $60 billion. Scott and Jewett wrote about their philanthropy on givingpledge.org.
ZUMIX, meanwhile, will offer a mix of in-person, hybrid, and virtual programs this summer after operating virtually for the past year due to the coronavirus. It hopes to resume full-time in-person learning this fall, with programs offered in instrumental music, songwriting, radio broadcasting and journalism, audio engineering, and video production. On July 11, ZUMIX will participate in the annual Walk for Music and its opening summer concert, held at Piers Park in East Boston.
“Receiving this degree of support and recognition from a national donor is incredibly validating,” says Nikki Stewart, ZUMIX’s chair of its board of directors. “This recognition honors the hard work, dedication, and leadership of ZUMIX’s staff, several of whom are program alumni.”