Workers at the El Pasoans Fighting Hunger food bank package loose beets on Tuesday, May 5, 2020. Due to disruptions in transportation and packaging services, EPFH workers receive and package loose produce on site. (Corrie Boudreaux/El Paso Matters)

Three El Paso nonprofit organizations are receiving $34 million from philanthropist MacKenzie Scott, part of $4.2 billion she is giving to 384 groups nationally.

MacKenzie Scott

El Pasoans Fighting Hunger, the United Way of El Paso County and the YWCA Paso del Norte Region were among the recipients identified by Scott in a blog post Tuesday.

Scott donated $20 million to the YWCA, CEO Sylvia Acosta said in a news release.

“This gift will make YWCA’s work possible for years to come and will impact so many people in the El Paso community,” Acosta said. “The crises our community have endured these past few years led us to lean into our mission even more and highlighted just how essential our programs are. Through it all, we continued supporting the women and children at our Transitional Living Center, expanded programs to our senior residents, provided critical childcare and educational support to children of essential workers, and started a Courageous Conversations series focused on our mission.”

El Pasoans Fighting Hunger received $9 million, CEO Susan Goodell said.

“We are incredibly grateful and humbled to receive this donation, which is truly a gift to the people of our community,” Goodell said. “It is only through the generosity of people like Ms. Scott that we will be able to continue our work to serve those who struggle with hunger every day. The need will continue to be great in the months and years to come, and this gift will help ensure that our food bank will be here to answer the call.”

United Way is receiving $5 million, CEO Deborah Zuloaga said.

“As good stewards of this $5 million gift, it will be our priority to work collaboratively with corporate partners, our board of directors, community volunteers and the next generation of philanthropists, who are part of our young professional donor networks, to develop and implement a plan to address our community’s needs and make the most of these dollars,” Zuloaga said. “This is not only a direct gift to our United Way but an investment in our community and its residents.”

In deciding which groups to help, Scott said she and her team looked for “organizations with 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.”

“These 384 carefully selected teams have dedicated their lives to helping others, working and volunteering and serving real people face-to-face at bedsides and tables, in prisons and courtrooms and classrooms, on streets and hospital wards and hotlines and frontlines of all types and sizes, day after day after day,” Scott wrote. “They help by delivering vital services, and also through the profound encouragement felt each time a person is seen, valued, and trusted by another human being.”

Scott, a novelist who was formerly married to Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, is among a group of billionaires who have signed the Giving Pledge, vowing to give a majority of their wealth to philanthropy or charitable causes.

Many nonprofits across the country have struggled this year declining revenues or skyrocketing demands for services — or both.

“As you know, YWCA had a tough year this year.  We lost almost 90% of our revenues yet we continued to work through it because we knew we had an obligation,” Acosta said. 

Even with Scott’s gift, the YWCA needs continuing support from the community, Acosta said.

“This is a lot of funding at this moment; however, this is a long-term gift.  We are working to ensure that we can accomplish some of our top priorities. Our needs are beyond this and we trust that our community knows that,” she said.  

Cover photo: Workers at the El Pasoans Fighting Hunger food bank package loose beets on May 5. (Corrie Boudreaux/El Paso Matters)

Disclosure: El Paso Matters founder and CEO Robert Moore is a board member of United Way of El Paso County and El Pasoans Fighting Hunger.