The Fortune Society announced that philanthropist MacKenzie Scott has awarded $10 million to the Long Island City-based nonprofit in recognition of the organization’s more than half a century of work supporting successful reentry from incarceration, promoting alternatives to incarceration, and advocating for reforms that protect and help individuals impacted by the criminal legal system.
Scott, who does not comment on her philanthropy, is reportedly worth nearly $48 billion following her 2019 divorce from Amazon owner Jeff Bezos, who scuttled his plan to build a massive HQ2 campus along the Anable Basin on the LIC waterfront that same year.
Scott signed on to the Giving Pledge in which billionaires are encouraged to give away half of their wealth to philanthropic causes. In the last year, Scott has donated more than $8 billion to organizations such as The Fortune Society.
“With this generous gift, MacKenzie Scott has chosen to invest in Fortune and in the inherent potential in people regardless of their pasts,” The Fortune Society President and CEO JoAnne Page said. “This grant is an important acknowledgment not only of our success in supporting justice-impacted people with crucial services and innovative housing but also for our advocacy leadership in advancing justice and equity, especially important at this time where we are seeing pressure to roll back reforms and return to a failed policy of mass incarceration.”
The Legal Aid Society condemned Governor Kathy Hochul for attempting to undo critical reforms to bail, speedy trial, discovery and Raise the Age. Removing the Raise the Age legislation would deny kids age-appropriate treatment, forcing them to face adult consequences when they are not adults. The Fortune Society is one of the nation’s leading nonprofit service and advocacy organizations, serving approximately 9,000 impacted New Yorkers in a typical year.
Its direct service programs have been recognized nationally and internationally for their quality and innovation.
“Fortune’s work has become more important throughout its 55-year history as incarceration rates have increased, most heavily burdening communities of color disproportionately impacted by the criminal legal system,” The Fortune Society Board Chair Dennis Kozlowski said. “MacKenzie Scott’s gift recognizes the efforts Fortune makes not only to mitigate but to eliminate the long-term harms that mass incarceration inflicts on individuals, families, communities and society as a whole.”
The nonprofit’s local and state advocacy efforts, through the David Rothenberg Center for Public Policy, aim to protect and support justice-impacted individuals in the areas of housing, parole, incarceration and the courts. Page said the $10 million in funding would strengthen the organization going forward.
“We are enormously grateful to MacKenzie Scott for this grant, which will further our mission to strengthen the fabric of our communities and will anchor Fortune’s services and advocacy in the coming years,” she said.