MacKenzie Scott Donates $10 Million to Pittsburgh Nonprofit Pressley Ridge
The billionaire philanthropist’s donation comes at the perfect time for the agency that provides therapeutic foster homes for children who struggle with mental health or other developmental challenges.
Pressley Ridge just received the largest single donation in its almost-200-year history — from philanthropist MacKenzie Scott.
The organization, which has long since been a leader in providing mental health, treatment foster care and specialized education services for youth and families, received a $10 million unrestricted gift from Scott. Scott is well-known for her involvement with Amazon as well as her philanthropic efforts; in 2019, she pledged to give most of her wealth to charity over her lifetime. According to Fortune, she received $59 billion in shares during her divorce from Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.
“We are grateful for and humbled by Ms. Scott’s investment in Pressley Ridge’s mission,” said Susanne Cole, President and CEO of Pressley Ridge, in a press release. “This gift will enhance our ability to serve the increasingly complex needs of youth and families in our communities. It will also accelerate our work as it relates to racial equity and bolster our commitment to leadership development in this field to advance clinical outcomes and best practices.”
Pressley Ridge, headquartered in McCandless, has been recognized for developing the country’s first treatment foster care curriculum in the early 1980s. This model provides therapeutic foster homes for children in the system who struggle with mental health or other developmental challenges. The effects of COVID-19, the organization says, have resulted in an uptick of mental health crises among youth and families alike.
The grant will help Pressley Ridge address what it calls “critical mental and behavioral needs” in the communities it serves throughout Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland and Delaware.
“Pressley Ridge has a long history of producing positive outcomes for kids and families who have experienced a variety of challenges in their lives,” said Tisha Germany, Board Chair, in a statement. “This gift validates the tremendous work of the staff and leadership and presents an opportunity to have a greater impact on diverse communities throughout the region and beyond.”
The gift comes shortly after Pressley Ridge completed its three-year strategic plan that includes a main focus on racial equity — a cause Scott has championed in the past through donations totaling more than $800 million to Historically Black Colleges and Universities, tribal colleges and universities and institutions that serve the Hispanic population.
“Racial equity is just one part of racial justice, and thus we will work to address the root causes of inequities, not just their manifestation. This includes the elimination of policies, practices, attitudes, and cultural messages that reinforce differential outcomes by race or fail to eliminate them,” the plan reads. “We will continue to advance data-driven strategies, employ racial equity principles, and hold true to our commitment to continual evaluation, assessment, and transformation throughout our organization.”