Girl Scouts

Oct 21, 2022 | News

Houston-Area Girl Scouts Get $4.2MM Donation From MacKenzie Scott

Tens of thousands of Girl Scouts in the Houston area figure to benefit from a multi-million-dollar donation from MacKenzie Scott, a California-based novelist and philanthropist.

The Girl Scouts of San Jacinto Council, which serves 26 counties in Southeast Texas, announced Tuesday it had received $4.2 million from Scott, the ex-wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. Scott donated a total of $84.5 million to Girl Scouts of the USA and 29 local councils, such as the one in the Houston, marking the largest donation from a single person in the 110-year history of the national organization.

“We are truly humbled and grateful for this generous gift and for MacKenzie Scott’s trust in our mission,” Mary Vitek, the CEO of the local Girl Scouts organization, said in a news release. “This gift not only emphasizes the importance of supporting the next generation of female leaders, but it also acknowledges the work of our volunteers and support of our local donors and community. It ensures we can advance our efforts to provide girls with meaningful experiences and equitable access to our leadership development program so they are empowered and equipped to lead.”

The donation from Scott boosts a Girl Scouts organization that saw a nearly 30 percent drop in youth membership after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020. There was a similar trend locally, with membership in the Girl Scouts of San Jacinto Council declining from 49,264 girls in 2020 to 35,236 in 2021, according to its annual reports.

Participation is back on the upswing this year, according to Connie Chavez, a spokesperson for the Girl Scouts of San Jacinto Council. It serves girls in kindergarten through 12th grade.

“It’s just exciting to see our troops and the families in the community returning a little bit more to a sense of normalcy,” Chavez said. “We’re really focused on enhancing the girl scouting experience for our girls.”

According to a news release from the local Girl Scouts organization, which was founded in 1922, the donation from Scott will be used for the following initiatives:

  • Enhancing its camps by adding new high-adventure programs, upgrading units to be accessible year-round and more resilient to weather events, and creating spaces that foster inclusion and belonging for all girls.
  • Advancing meaningful program innovation informed by the current interests and needs of girls to prepare them for leadership, including an expanded focus on mental wellness.
  • Allowing the Girl Scouts of the San Jacinto Council to maintain equitable access to the organization’s mission by restoring and deepening programs in underserved communities.

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