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Author-philanthropist MacKenzie Scott donates $50 million 4-H

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In a historic donation, the National 4-H Council announced a record $50 million gift from philanthropist MacKenzie Scott, a novelist whose ex-husband Jeff Bezos founded Amazon. 

For many in the agriculture industry, the National 4-H Council is the first interaction we have in any organization. Providing programs for kids and teens ages 8-18, 4-H teaches through hands-on projects in areas like health, science, agriculture and civic engagement and serves 6 million youth each year.

In a statement found on their website, the National 4‑H Council said, “As partner to Cooperative Extension’s 4-H program, we are pleased to share the news of a transformational, $50 million gift to National 4-H Council from writer and philanthropist MacKenzie Scott. Because of 4-H’s expansive reach into every U.S. county, parish, and territory, this investment will support positive youth development for millions of kids and families. Amid the serious challenges affecting our youth—from a national mental health crisis to widening opportunity gaps—the skills, confidence, and resilience young people develop through 4-H programs are essential.”

Scott won the prestigious American Book Award in 2006 for her novel The Testing of Luther Albright. She is the mother of four children and was married to Bezos for 25 years, divorcing in 2019. Estimates put her net worth north of $60 billion, including a continued stake in Amazon.com.

Her gift builds upon the efforts of thousands of local Cooperative Extension 4-H educators, more than 500,000 volunteers, and millions of 4-H youthalumni, and donors. It leverages decades of public investment from counties, states, and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture at USDA. And it will sustain 4-H’s commitment to ensuring all young people—regardless of their background or beliefs—are empowered with the skills to lead for a lifetime.

“This extraordinary gift is a rare and special occurrence,” said Krysta Harden, National 4-H Council Board Chair. “With such a significant gift comes great responsibility. We will engage our stakeholders to ensure these resources lift the diverse voices of young people and create equitable and inclusive opportunities for this generation, and many future generations to come.”

4‑H’s reach and depth is unmatched, reaching kids in every corner of America — from urban neighborhoods to suburban schoolyards to rural farming communities. Their network of 500,000 volunteers and 3,500 4‑H professionals provides caring and supportive mentoring to all 6 million 4‑H’ers, helping them grow into true leaders today and in life.

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