MacKenzie Scott has awarded what appears to be the fourth largest gift of her philanthropy — $122.6 million to Big Brothers Big Sisters of America (BBBSA). The money will go to the national office in Tampa and 38 of the organization’s 230 chapters.
Scott has donated at least $12.5 billion to 1,258 organizations since 2020. So far the largest gifts have gone to Habitat for Humanity International ($436 million), Boys & Girls Clubs of America ($281 million) and Planned Parenthood Federation of America ($275 million).
Scott’s gift will support expanding the organization’s ability to match more young people with caring, adult mentors — allowing for more staff, resources, and training — and assist BBBSA in closing the gap on the estimated one in three youth who lack a positive, sustained mentor in their lives, according to officials at the organization via a statement.
The Scott funding will support the organization in furthering its mission to ensure every young person has access to powerful mentoring experiences that empower them for success in school, life and career.
“For over 100 years, Big Brothers Big Sisters has delivered on our powerful mission – to inspire youth equity and empower kids to reach their full potential with a caring mentor by their side,” said Artis Stevens, president and CEO, BBBSA. “We are incredibly grateful and humbled by MacKenzie’s generosity and acknowledgement of the incredible work of our passionate professionals and volunteers who are unwavering in their commitment to create meaningful outcomes for young people today and for generations to come.”
The $122.6 million is the largest donation from a single individual in the organization’s history. The plan is to create greater access to mentoring experiences by building stronger alliances with other nonprofits, educational and civic organizations, delivering mentoring strategies that account for the uniqueness and differences of kids today, and attracting families and volunteers in turnkey ways that meet them where they are in life.
“Mentoring is an integral part of the solution in preparing youth for life and career, building positive relationships and essential skills for life changing outcomes including post-secondary readiness, social emotional learning, and a stronger sense of belonging and inclusion,” said Stevens. “We know that no one person, organization or gift can do this work alone, but one person — no matter their background — can make an incredible difference through positive and inspired action. MacKenzie’s investment and belief in Big Brothers Big Sisters shows this on a large-scale and we are confident that her gift will compel more people to help grow the village of mentors, volunteers, and donors needed to positively impact young people’s lives today and well into the future.”
The bulk of Scott’s fortune is from Amazon stock she was awarded in a divorce from Amazon co-founder Jeff Bezos. That’s where things might get more interesting. Amazon management announced a 20-1 stock split for June and a $10 billion stock buyback. A stock split and buyback allows more investors access to the stock at a lower price, thus, perhaps starting a run upwards.
That probably will have an impact on Scott’s philanthropy. Forbes has estimated her wealth at $50 billion. According to Bloomberg and other business news reports, she received a 4% stake in Amazon through the divorce, which was worth $36 billion at the time. A quick calculation of those numbers implies a $900 billion market capitalization, which would be $1,800 per share with approximately 500 million shares outstanding. The $36 billion stake divided by $1,800 per share price at the time would come out to roughly 20 million shares.
At this writing the stock price is $2,075 per share after the NASDAQ exchange has taken a beating for the past two weeks. How many shares she might have sold to finance the previous philanthropy is not known right now. A 20-1 split would price the new shares at roughly $103.75 each.
A stock split doesn’t have a direct impact on the shareholders in terms overall wealth because you’re splitting the same amount, getting additional shares at the lower cost basis, according to Fabian Willskytt, associate director at Align Impact in Santa Monica, Calif., which works with social enterprise organizations but does not have a connection to Scott. Position size in an individual security might handcuff how much a shareholder can sell without having an impact on the overall price, saturating the market and pushing down the share price, he explained.
Making the stock more accessible to smaller investors will probably have a small immediate impact on the value of Scott’s stake. It also makes the stock more enticing to be a Dow Jones component equity, according to Brian Mittendorf, the Fisher Designated Professor of Accounting at the Fisher College of Business at The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio. It would join firms such as Apple, Salesforce, Microsoft and Walt Disney.
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