What Happens When 2 Billionaires' Exes Team Up? This

MacKenzie Scott, Melinda French Gates donate $40M to programs supporting gender equality
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 30, 2021 10:28 AM CDT
MacKenzie Scott, Melinda French Gates Band Together
In this March 4, 2018, file photo, MacKenzie Scott arrives at the Vanity Fair Oscar party in Beverly Hills, Calif.   (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File)

We don't know (though we'd love to) what the flies on the wall hear when MacKenzie Scott and Melinda French Gates get together, but one of their recent conversations apparently took a philanthropic turn. The two billionaires—and exes of former Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, respectively—have teamed up to donate $40 million to four projects focused on gender equality in tech, minority communities, caregiving, and education, per CNBC. Details:

  • The four were picked from more than 550 entries in the Equality Can't Wait Challenge, an initiative hosted by French Gates' investment company and dedicated to helping "expand women's power and influence in the United States by 2030," according to its website. Scott and her husband, Dan Jewett, provide support for the program, as does billionaire philanthropist Lynn Schusterman.

  • The four: The Building Women's Equality through Strengthening the Care Infrastructure coalition, the Changing the Face of Tech project from the Ada Developers Academy, Project Accelerate from Girls Inc., and The Future is Indigenous Womxn initiative from New Mexico Community Capital and Native Women Lead.
  • "We can break the patterns of history and advance gender equality, but we must commit to lifting up organizations ... that are ready to lift up women and girls," French Gates said in a statement, per CNBC. Scott called the winners of their awards "strong teams working on the front lines and from within communities to help women build power in their lives and careers."
  • Two other finalists—one addressing domestic violence issues, the other focused on a training program for women who want to jump into politics—split an additional $8 million.
  • CNN Business notes that both Scott and French Gates have emerged as big names on the philanthropy scene separate from their exes: Scott, who has a net worth of nearly $64 billion, has donated $7 billion or so just over the past year, while French Gates, with a net worth of $3.2 billion, invested $1 billion in 2019 through her investment firm to support gender equality.
(More MacKenzie Scott stories.)

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