This is big. As in, “$20 million in unrestricted donations” big.
Earlier this year, we worked with the Foundation for Fresno Unified Schools (“the Foundation”) to develop a strategic plan for its inaugural initiative: a scholarship program for the district’s nearly 4,000 graduating seniors.
The Fresno Unified School District is the third-largest school district in California, and the newly created Foundation wanted to ensure its flagship scholarship initiative could make the highest positive impact for its students and serve as a model program for other districts.
Led by our incredible consultants Athena and Lange, Parkes worked with the Foundation over a two-month sprint on a ground-up process – all the way from pinpointing strategic needs framework to a fully developed scholarship initiative (learn more in our case study here)
Fast forward to last week, and the district’s new foundation received an unsolicited and unexpected call that MacKenzie Scott, the former spouse of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, is giving the foundation $20 million – no strings attached.
The $20 million will enable the new Foundation for Fresno Unified Schools to create an endowment, producing $800,000 to $1 million annually and will enable the foundation to more than quadruple college scholarships.
While Scott doesn’t publicly explain much about her philanthropic choices, we’ve gotten a couple hints as to why Fresno and the foundation received this incredible opportunity. Bob Nelson, the Fresno Unified Superintendent, spoke in a recent EdSource article about his conversations with Scott’s representative. When he asked why Fresno was chosen, he was told, “We’ve heard through multiple venues that the work happening in Fresno is meaningful, worthwhile, and something that we want to support.”
“We’ve heard through multiple venues that the work happening in Fresno is meaningful, worthwhile, and something that we want to support.”
We are thrilled to see this level of recognition and assistance go to such a deserving program, and can’t wait to continue working with the Foundation to support their acceleration of student progress!
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