MacKenzie Scott gifts $17 million to Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee

Students playing in the game room of the Pieper-Hillside branch. (Photo: Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee)

Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee has received a $17 million donation from philanthropist MacKenzie Scott.

The Milwaukee-based organization is one of 62 Boys & Girls Clubs and its national organization that will receive a combined $281 million from Scott.

It’s one of the largest individual donations in BGCGM’s history. In an announcement Thursday, BGCGM said the gift will allow the organization to deliver its mission.

“This is a truly transformative donation for our organization and the teens and kids we serve. We are amazed, grateful, inspired, and humbled to receive this gift,” said Kathy Thornton-Bias, president and CEO of BGCGM. “In a time where Milwaukee’s kids are facing so many challenges, MacKenzie Scott’s donation will allow us to accelerate our work and meaningfully implement the strategies we have developed to address the needs of the teens and children we serve. This significant gift will allow all of us at BGCGM to amplify our impact across Milwaukee. We hope that being selected to receive this gift will inspire others to join and support our work and help our kids now when they need us the most.”

BGCGM is the largest Boys & Girls Club out of more than 4,700 locations nationally. It has 40 locations in the city and the 300-acre Camp Whitcomb/Mason in Hartland. It provides kids and teens ages 4-18 a safe space in their community, mentors, meals and resources to help them with their academics.

Earlier this month, the organization announced the opening of its new Ready Center, which offers programming for middle, high school and college students related to college and career readiness, leadership development, volunteerism, community service and entrepreneurial education.

“BGCGM being selected as one of only 62 Clubs across the country to receive a gift speaks to the talent, commitment and results Kathy and her dedicated team deliver each day,” said Bob Mikulay, BGCGM board chair. “I am grateful to the BGCGM staff, our engaged and hard-working board of trustees and the generous donors in Milwaukee who make this work possible. I am thrilled that MacKenzie Scott chose BGCGM as one of the recipients of this gift. While we still have a long way to go, this donation will enable the first steps toward consistently providing more opportunities for Milwaukee’s kids.”

In a national charitable spree in late 2020, Scott gifted $25 million to United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County$15 million to Goodwill Industries of Southeastern Wisconsin and Metropolitan Chicago and $5 million to United Way of Racine County. 

Late last year, Milwaukee-based Public Allies, a national nonprofit that prepares underrepresented young people for grassroots leadership, announced it had also received a $10 million donation from Scott and her husband, Dan Jewett.

Previously, Scott was married to chief executive officer Jeff Bezos.

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