Philanthropist MacKenzie Scott has donated $20 million to the New Jersey Pandemic Relief Fund, fund officials announced Wednesday.
The truly transformational gift is nearly half of what the fund has raised this year — and brings the total amount raised to date to $61 million.
First lady Tammy Murphy, the founding chair of the NJPRF, said the gift will enable the nonprofit to continue its mission of addressing the social, economic and medical impact of COVID-19 on the state’s most vulnerable communities.
“On behalf of the state of New Jersey and the thousands of New Jerseyans benefiting from NJRPF grants, I want to thank MacKenzie Scott for this transformational gift,” Murphy said. “Ms. Scott’s generosity will help so many residents of our state whose lives have been upended by the pandemic.
“The crisis has caused immeasurable pain and exposed unbearable inequities. This gift will enable us to continue our work to help those most in need here in New Jersey as this virus surges again. We are grateful.”
The NJPRF was created in the spring when New Jersey was among the first states in the nation to experience the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The NJPRF has collaborated with nonprofit organizations in all 21 counties to address the multifaceted challenges created by the pandemic, including providing assistance to food pantries, bridging the digital divide in low-income school districts, jump-starting an art and culture fund, reimagining child care, aiding minority- and women-owned small businesses and supporting free legal and counseling services to tenants facing eviction.
Josh Weinreich, the CEO of the NFPRF, said the gift helps validate the work the fund has done.
“We’re extremely gratified to have been chosen by MacKenzie Scott for this gift,” he said. “This donation is a validation of the good work that has been done by the New Jersey Pandemic Relief Fund. It’s a vote of confidence in our organization, our board and our mission, and will allow us to continue to support those most in need.”
With these additional funds in hand, the NJPRF board, which consists of corporate and philanthropic leaders from around the state, can now expand its assistance to vulnerable populations in the state.
“Our board is keenly aware of the tremendous suffering throughout the state caused by the pandemic and is mindful of the pressing need to get these funds into the hands of people who need it the most,” Weinreich said.
Scott, an award-winning author and the former wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, was named the fourth wealthiest woman in the world by Forbes magazine this year. She is said to have a net worth of approximately $60 billion.
Last year, Scott signed the Giving Pledge, promising to give away at least half of her wealth.
The NFPRF is one of 384 organizations to receive gifts from Scott this week. All told, the donations were said to be $4.2 billion. In July, Scott donated $1.7 billion to 116 organizations.
The gift to the NJPRF was unsolicited.