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Charlotte YMCA Lands $18 Million Donation From Billionaire Philanthropist

Stratford Richardson YMCA exterior.png
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The Stratford Richardson YMCA on West Boulevard is part of the YMCA of Greater Charlotte.

The YMCA of Greater Charlotte announced Monday that it received an $18 million donation from billionaire philanthropist MacKenzie Scott.

The YMCA received the donation in December but is just now announcing it because the organization wanted to wait until it had finalized plans for how to spend the donation.

The YMCA said it will use the money to address health and nutrition disparities and help area youth and teens in underserved communities. That will include turning locations in the West Boulevard and Beatties Ford Road areas into “health equity campuses” where community members can access health care providers, mental health care services and healthy food. It will also boost programs for youth and teens in underserved neighborhoods.

“This is not a ‘one-and-done’ project,” said Todd Tibbits, president and CEO of YMCA of Greater Charlotte, “this is the beginning of an exciting transformation for our organization, and one that will require strategic partnerships and philanthropic investment to sustain this bold and catalytic vision in the years to come.”

MacKenzie Scott is the former wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. She announced on her blog in December 2020 that she had given away $4.1 billion dollars during the end of the year to hundreds of organizations — many of which are local YMCAs across the country.

Previously, Goodwill Industries of the Southern Piedmont announced that it had received $10 million from Scott.

The YMCA of Greater Charlotte called the $18 million gift “transformational,” saying in a statement that it arrived at the end of the organization’s most difficult year, which saw a 40% loss of revenue and cuts to a third of its full-time staff.

“Last year, as we quickly realized that COVID-19 was going to be a long-term crisis and we saw our revenues decline by $40 million, we knew we would need to be a different organization on the other side of the pandemic,” Tibbits said.

The YMCA of Greater Charlotte said the $18 million gift is the largest in the organization’s history.

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Catherine Welch is Assistant News Director at WFAE. She has led newsrooms at KUNC in Greely, CO, Rhode Island Public Radio in Providence, RI and WHQR in Wilmington, NC.