Magdalena Verdugo

Meredith Beed

YWCA Southern Arizona Among 384 Nationwide Recipients of MacKenzie Scott Major Gifts

Tucson, Arizona, December 16, 2020 – On Tuesday, it was announced that YWCA Southern Arizona was among the 384 organizations chosen by writer and philanthropist MacKenzie Scott to receive historic gifts totaling a combined 4.158 billion to organizations across the country. We are so grateful to be one of the recipients of this transformative gift alongside 59 of our sister YWCA associations across the country, as well as our local United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona.

“These 384 carefully selected teams have dedicated their lives to helping others, working and volunteering and serving real people face-to-face at bedsides and tables, in prisons and courtrooms and classrooms, on streets and hospital wards and hotlines and frontlines of all types and sizes, day after day after day,” Scott shared in her blog post on Medium publicly announcing the gift. “They help by delivering vital services, and also through the profound encouragement felt each time a person is seen, valued, and trusted by another human being. This kind of encouragement has a special power when it comes from a stranger, and it works its magic on everyone.”

Josefina Ahumada, YWCA Southern Arizona Board President, shared, “on learning that the YWCA was awarded a donation from community advocate Mackenzie Scott I was completely amazed. It is wonderful to be recognized and included with the other outstanding national organizations that serve their communities”. She continues, “receiving this donation will enable the YWCA to continue its social justice work in Southern Arizona. Our CEO, board of directors, staff, and volunteers make up the incredible team at the YWCA that is focused on its mission to eliminate racism and to empower women.”

Scott’s team of advisors initially identified nearly 6,500 organizations in their search and narrowed it down with suggestions from field experts, funders, non-profit leaders, and volunteers through intensive data analysis on community needs, program outcomes, and organizational capacity and leadership. They prioritized communities facing high projected food insecurity, high measures of racial inequity, high local poverty rates, and low access to philanthropic capital.

“We are incredibly humbled and grateful to have been selected as one of the 384 organizations to receive such a significant gift for our community,” said Magdalena Verdugo, YWCA Southern Arizona CEO. Magdalena was brought to tears when she received the call a month ago, and when she shared the news with the team, everyone had smiles cheek-to-cheek; the excitement was palpable. “Our team of staff, board, volunteers, clients, and partners will all feel the impact of Scott’s generosity as we dedicate the funds to increase our capacity to meet the basic needs of the women and families we serve, combatting systemic inequalities, and seeking to promote peace, justice, freedom, dignity, for all,” Verdugo shared.

This gift could not have come at a more vital time. Scott pinpointed the devastating effects of the pandemic on communities across the country: “Economic losses and health outcomes alike have been worse for women, for people of color, and for people living in poverty. Meanwhile, it has substantially increased the wealth of billionaires”. We have directly witnessed the disproportionate impact of this pandemic on working mothers, and when school began in August, women dropped out of the workforce at four times the rate of men. Scott described the effects of the pandemic as a “wrecking ball in the lives of Americans already struggling”.

We commend Scott for taking a bold stand against injustice and paving the way for a new culture of philanthropy that trusts in the community leaders to make decisions about the use of funds that best meet their communities’ needs. Her commitment and pledge to redistribute the “majority of [her] wealth back to the society that helped generate it” and acknowledgment that “anyone’s personal wealth is the product of a collective effort, and of social structures which present opportunities to some people, and obstacles to countless others” is a beautiful example of what it means to work towards a more equitable world that works for everybody. Thank you, MacKenzie Scott, for standing with us.


About YWCA Southern Arizona

YWCA Southern Arizona has been a leader in the fight for economic and social justice for over 100 years with a mission to “eliminate racism, empower women and promote peace, justice, freedom, and dignity for all.” Each year, YWCA programs and services seek to empower women by advancing family well-being, financial stability, entrepreneurship, leadership, and job training. YWCA also works to engage voters and support grassroots activists working to create a local and state economy that works for everybody. For more information, call (520) 884-7810 or visit