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Habitat for Humanity receives 'transformational' donation from MacKenzie Scott

James Brown
Workers assemble the frame of a 1,500-square-foot Habitat for Humanity home, in Rochester's JOSANA neighborhood in 2021.

An organization that helps people build their own homes alongside volunteers just got a big boost, both locally and nationally.

Flower City Habitat for Humanity is getting a $3.75 million donation from MacKenzie Scott, a gift the organization calls "transformational."

She is the ex-wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, and she has pledged to give away the majority of her wealth.

The donation in Rochester is part of an overall $436 million donation from Scott to Habitat for Humanity nationally. Rochester is one of 83 individual affiliates that is getting some of that money.

Matt Flanigan is the local president and CEO for Habitat for Humanity. He said the $3.75 million will help not only with current costs for housing and materials, but also with long term planning for the organization.

“It also allows us to take some of those funds, and invest them in our future to make sure that we have that infrastructure to withstand the things that we can’t even anticipate today,” said Flanigan. “And I think the last two years have taught us that anticipating things that maybe you might not first think of, is wise.”

The umbrella organization, Habitat International, will use its portion of the donation to prioritize advocacy and efforts designed to dismantle system racism in housing. CEO for Habitat International, Jonathan Reckford said that, “Habitat works to break down barriers…and build a world where everyone, no matter who we are or where we come from, has a decent place to live.” Reckford said Scott’s gift makes that work possible.

In the last several months, Mackenzie Scott donated $20 million to the United Way of Greater Rochester and $10 million to Goodwill of the Finger Lakes.

Randy Gorbman is WXXI's director of news and public affairs. Randy manages the day-to-day operations of WXXI News on radio, television, and online.