MacKenzie Scott Gives $55 Million for Affordable Housing Efforts in Los Angeles
Billionaire philanthropist and novelist MacKenzie Scott gave the California Community Foundation two Beverly Hills homes together valued at about $55 million to support affordable housing and immigrant programs in the Los Angeles area. She directed foundation officials to sell the two homes and use 90 percent of the proceeds to permanently endow the foundation’s grant making to help low-income people in Los Angeles find affordable housing there.
Plus, three universities received large donations to support music programs, campus construction, and better understanding of U.S. institutions.
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A roundup of notable gifts compiled by the Chronicle:
California Community Foundation
Billionaire philanthropist and novelist MacKenzie Scott gave two Beverly Hills homes together valued at about $55 million to support affordable housing and immigrant programs in the Los Angeles area.
Officials at the organization plan to sell the two homes and, following Scott’s directions, will use 90 percent of the proceeds to permanently endow the foundation’s grant making to help low-income people in Los Angeles find affordable housing there. Scott said the nonprofit could use the remaining 10 percent for any purpose, and foundation officials have decided to direct that portion to its immigrant integration program.
The gift is an unusual one for Scott. Up to this point, she has primarily given unrestricted, one-time donations to the charities she has backed. This time around she noted the specific program she wanted to support and what percentage of the proceeds from the sale of the homes should go toward that effort. This is also the second donation Scott has given the foundation. Last year she gave the foundation $20 million to establish the LA Arts Endowment Fund, which supports diverse, small to midsized arts organizations in Los Angeles.
Scott appears to have departed, at least for now, from the practice of announcing a big collection of gifts all at once as she has each summer and December since she started announcing her charitable giving in 2020. She has given several large donations in recent months, including this one, but has left it up to the charities to publicize the gifts. She has not made any announcements since March.
Scott is a novelist who helped create Amazon with her former husband, Jeff Bezos. Her net worth is estimated at $42 billion, and she has given a total of more than $12 billion to at least 1,250 nonprofits in the last two years. Scott appeared on the Chronicle’s annual Philanthropy 50 list of the biggest donors in 2020.
Duke University School of Law
Rick Horvitz and Erica Hartman-Horvitz gave nearly $5.5 million to endow a constitutional and public-law program, which has been renamed the Richard A. Horvitz Program in Constitutional & Public Law.
The program aims to promote a better understanding of U.S. public institutions, the constitutional framework in which they function, and the principles and laws that apply to the work of public officials. The couple have been supporters of the program since it was established in 1998.
Rick Horvitz is a co-founder and the chairman of Moreland Management Company, a wealth-management and investment firm in Cleveland. He previously practiced law at Baker & Hostetler. He earned a J.D. from the law school in 1978.
Purdue University at Fort Wayne School of Music
Chuck and Lisa Surack gave $3 million to the university’s School of Music to help pay for the construction of a new music-technology center building, which will house the school’s music-industry, popular-music, and music-technology programs.
Chuck Surack is CEO of Surack Enterprises, a holding company for a number aviation and entertainment businesses the Suracks own in the Midwest. He also founded Sweetwater, a mobile recording studio he started out of the back of a Volkswagen bus in 1979. It later became one of the largest online music-instrument retailers in the country.
The Suracks have been involved with the School of Music since its inception in 2017. They partnered with the university early on to create studio and classroom space for Purdue Fort Wayne students at Sweetwater’s corporate headquarters in Fort Wayne, Ind.
Ted and Laurie Beneski gave $3 million to support a large campuswide construction project that will include campus renovations and the construction of new green spaces, campus entrances, student housing, a pedestrian corridor, and new signage throughout the campus. A new main entrance to the campus will be named Beneski Parkway.
Ted Beneski founded and is CEO and managing partner of Insight Equity Holdings, a private-equity firm in Southlake, Tex. He previously served as a senior vice president at the Carlyle Management Group and as managing director of Bain & Company’s Dallas office.
To learn about other big donations, see our database of gifts of $1 million or more, which is updated regularly.