United Way Announces First Wave of Community Funding From MacKenzie Scott Donation

United Way California Capital Region has approved a first wave of funding totaling $500,000 from the $10 million gift received in December from philanthropist MacKenzie Scott. The first wave of funding will help individuals and families in the region gain social and financial capital, support United Way’s digital equity work across the capital region, empower Sacramento residents to have a voice in a local redevelopment project and provide COVID-19 relief funding in Yolo County.

“We knew this gift from MacKenzie Scott would be a game-changer for our community, and I’m thrilled that we are able to begin distributing this much needed funding,” said Stephanie Bray, president and CEO, United Way California Capital Region. “This first wave of funding will go a long way toward reaching the goals of our Square One Project that is working to provide family support and stability so kids can stay on track in school and graduate from high school prepared for success.”

$200,000 of the funding will go toward United Way’s Capital Region Independence Initiative that is providing direct investment in local individuals and families to amplify their financial and social capital. The initiative aims to address inequities in the region, increasing average monthly income, decreasing subsidies, improving children’s grades, increasing savings and improving families’ overall economic impact on the community through increased spending.

United Way is investing $150,000 of the funding in its digital equity work, with a match of $150,000 from SMUD over the next three years to fund local digital literacy and training programs, distribute laptops and hotspots to those in need, and address underlying factors that contribute to the digital divide. Working with community-based organizations, United Way will remove technological barriers to education and employment and build the digital capability of those in the community who are most acutely affected by the digital divide, prioritizing low-income households with children and senior citizens.

United Way will invest $50,000 in its work to give residents of Mirasol Village in Sacramento greater engagement and influence in its redevelopment and resettlement. United Way is working with residents to develop a comprehensive, results-driven plan based on a needs assessment and other data. The work will help residents self-advocate about how Mirasol Village is redeveloped, how the surrounding community is built and how they can reach their own life goals.

The first wave also is providing $100,000 in funding toward United Way’s Yolo County COVID-19 relief program, providing households in need in Yolo County with a one-time $500 payment. Local nonprofits will identify and qualify low-income families who are experiencing an increased financial hardship from unpaid leave due to isolation, care of a vulnerable or infected relative, loss of wages due to involuntary cancellation of work or unpaid leave due to school or daycare closures.

Scott chose the local United Way chapter to receive the $10 million gift in December because of the group’s work to fill basic needs while also addressing long-term systemic inequities that have deepened during the pandemic.

For nearly 100 years, United Way California Capital Region has brought local people together to make community change happen. Today, the nonprofit is bringing people together across Amador, El Dorado, Sacramento, Placer and Yolo counties for its Square One Project, a 20-year promise to significantly increase the number of students in our region who graduate from high school ready for success in college and beyond. United Way believes ending poverty starts in school and is working to ensure kids meet important milestones and their families receive support and resources. To learn more and make a donation, visit YourLocalUnitedWay.org.