CEO Matt Ryerson’s Statement on MacKenzie Scott’s Generous One-Time Gift
I am thrilled to announce that the United Way of Greater Knoxville has received a transformational gift of $10 million from noted philanthropist and novelist, MacKenzie Scott. As she highlights in her announcement, Ms. Scott and her team took a data driven approach to selecting the recipient organizations by looking for “strong leadership teams and results, with special attention to those operating in communities facing high project food insecurity, high measure of racial inequity, and high local poverty rates.” But just as important as those factors is trust. She trusts us to do the work so needed in this challenging year. She trusts our community to get it done.
While I am humbled and honored by her trust, it is the possibilities that this gift gives us that gets me truly excited. This gift gives us the opportunity to dream, not of what could be, but of what WILL be.
As a silver lining to this unprecedented year, 2020 has shown that when we are faced with the most difficult circumstances, our community rises to the challenge. We have seen people come together to distribute meals to the elderly and children out of school; we have seen groups donate to ensure that essential workers have face masks and childcare; we have seen thousands giving to Facebook Fundraisers and Go Fund Me campaigns to support their family, friends and neighbors.
When we take that “Volunteer Spirit” and combine it with the tremendous resources supplied by this gift, the opportunities to improve our community are no longer dreams, but realities within our grasp.
In the past, our nonprofit sector was forced to triage problems due to lack of resources. We could only address the crisis in front of us with a relief approach – a Band-Aid. Now, this gift gives us the opportunity to address our community’s core problems and SOLVE them. This gift is not a reward for the good work we’ve done in the past, it is the beginning of the great work to be done in the future.
I, and so many others, have a vision for what our community can be. A place where everyone has a seat at the table, where their basic needs are met, and where they too, are able to dream of a brighter future.
Today is our day. Today is our opportunity to change the way we face our community’s problems and to work towards SOLVING problems. Today we can begin to transform the way we do our work, creating avenues towards a better tomorrow. Today is a good day for Knoxville.
Matt Ryerson, President and CEO
United Way of Greater Knoxville