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Big Brothers, Sisters gets record $900K donation

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The Big Brothers Big Sisters of Delaware received a $900,000 donation from billionaire philanthropist MacKenzie Scott. | PHOTO COURTESY OF BBBSDE

WILMINGTON – The Big Brothers Big Sisters of Delaware (BBBSDE) announced that it recently received a record-setting gift of $900,000 from billionaire philanthropist MacKenzie Scott.

Scott, the ex-wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, has become one of the foremost philanthropists in the country, quietly donating more than $12 billion to nonprofits in the last two years. Locally, she had previously donated $20 million to Delaware State University, $10 million to the YMCA of Delaware and $3.5 million to Sussex County Habitat for Humanity – all of which were also record-breaking gifts for each organization.

In late May, she donated $122.6 million to the Big Brothers Big Sisters of America and 38 of its local agencies, including the one in Delaware.

“It’s really a testimony to the work that we put into expanding programs for youth around the state of Delaware,” Anya Lindsey-Jenkins, executive director of BBBSDE, told Delaware Business Times.

Big Brothers Big Sisters is a more than century-old organization that provides one-on-one mentoring for youths with screened and vetted adult mentors. Lindsey-Jenkins explained that Delaware’s mentors come from all walks of life, ranging from youth adults in the early 20s to retirees, and the organization reaches upward of 1,500 youth annually.

Although she couldn’t say much about how the local agency was informed of Scott’s gift or how they were chosen – Scott employs non-disclosure agreements with her donations – Lindsey-Jenkins confirmed that it was the largest donation in the state organization’s history.

“It’s a transformational gift in that we will be able to service more kids as we have seen a substantial increase in the need for services in southern Delaware,” she added.

BBBSDE recently launched the Bigs in Blue program, that matches law enforcement officers with youth in need, and the Beyond School Walls program, which pairs a career mentor with students to provide an up-close look at a career path of interest.

Those programs would expand with the addition of Scott’s gift, and BBBSDE aims to open a mentoring hub in Dover within the next two years. Lindsey-Jenkins said that over the past three years BBBSDE has seen a 20% increase in the request for services in Kent and Sussex counties.

“We want to have a place where young people can meet their Bigs to participate and host cooking classes, workshops, and more,” she said, noting that right now a lot of the interaction between Bigs and Littles happens out in the community.

Currently, about 100 “Littles” are awaiting being matched with a “Big.” To find out more about the opportunity or to apply to be a “Big,” visit bbbsde.org.

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