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United Way: MacKenzie Scott’s gifts are going to boost Baltimore area | READER COMMENTARY

In this March 4, 2018 file photo, then-MacKenzie Bezos arrives at the Vanity Fair Oscar Party in Beverly Hills, Calif. A donation from author and philanthropist MacKenzie Scott to Morgan State University has become the largest single donor gift in the historically Black college’s history. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File)
In this March 4, 2018 file photo, then-MacKenzie Bezos arrives at the Vanity Fair Oscar Party in Beverly Hills, Calif. A donation from author and philanthropist MacKenzie Scott to Morgan State University has become the largest single donor gift in the historically Black college’s history. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File) (Evan Agostini/Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

News of MacKenzie Scott’s tremendous generosity has traveled the nation, starting with a blog post on Medium, and reaching national shows and newspapers (”Billionaire MacKenzie Scott donates record-breaking $40 million to Morgan State University,” Dec. 15). The depth of research she employed to make her decisions is commendable. But what I would like to thank her for is the impact she has made on the greater Baltimore region.

We know right now that her giving exceeds $60 million in Central Maryland, and reaches our local Historically Black Colleges and Universities of Morgan State University, University of Maryland Eastern Shore and Bowie State University, but also goes further in its support of local nonprofit organizations like United Way of Central Maryland and also the Y of Central Maryland and Meals on Wheel of Central Maryland.

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The hope that these major gifts have fostered in just days and the potential Ms. Scott saw in our communities, our organizations and our institutions is heartwarming. But it is also hugely impactful. This kind of philanthropy is not often seen in our area.

We are honored to be among the organizations chosen to receive this funding — funding that I know will go a long way in improving many lives. For United Way of Central Maryland, that means providing what’s needed, where it’s needed. These dollars will translate to immediate and meaningful impact and support our key initiatives to bring together partners to take on the toughest challenges facing our communities, propel innovative programs that benefit our residents and connect generous people with the causes they care about most. The pandemic has dramatically increased need throughout our region — with many seeking help and services for the first time.

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Our work spans from emergency response and support like eviction prevention to long-term support that helps families become economically stable for the long term. Much of our work is centered around our neighborhood zones: resource hubs offering programs, resources and services to help stabilize families and individuals and the communities in which they live. Calls to our 211 Maryland United Way Helpline have skyrocketed since March. These are just a few of our proven and effective programs that we will be able to amplify and expand thanks to Ms. Scott’s generosity.

We join the other recipients in expressing our gratitude on behalf of the greater Baltimore area for these gifts which allow all of us to respond to the extraordinary need in our communities. This is the greatest validation of the critical work all of us are doing to improve lives every day.

Franklyn Baker, Baltimore

The writer is president and CEO of United Way of Central Maryland.

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