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MacKenzie Scott Makes Gift to Easterseals Southwest Florida’s Services

(Dec. 18, 2020 … SARASOTA, FL)  Author and philanthropist MacKenzie Scott made a $3,000,000 gift through a community foundation fund to benefit Easterseals Southwest Florida. The donation will be used to continue to fund services provided for individuals with disabilities as well as their families and help to create sustainable programming.

With the added effects of the pandemic impacting the ability to serve clients directly, quickly creating programs helped to ensure clients still received basic therapies and educational lessons but nothing substitutes for direct services, Easterseals Southwest Florida President and CEO Tom Waters said.

“Under the best of circumstances, many of our clients are medically fragile,” Waters said. “Even with safe practices in place to allow for face-to-face care, formidable challenges still exist and restrain some of that delivery. We’ve been able to offer virtual opportunities to our families but, even with those solutions, the decline in revenue streams has been significant.”

Waters said the agency has seen a decline in revenue streams due to the pandemic while costs have increased. Without the generosity of philanthropy, especially an unrestricted gift like this one, many efforts would have been lost.  The agency will continue to grow core services while accelerating new planned initiatives including those for autism and mental health services for the disabled as well as supporting numerous partnerships in Manatee and Sarasota counties. 

“The nature of the gift allows us to continue to boldly serve our clients throughout their lives, from birth to their senior years.” Waters said. 

Scott signed the Giving Pledge in 2019 and has since donated to more than 100 nonprofits across the US. Other wealthy individuals, including Warren Buffett as well as Bill and Melinda Gates, have also signed the Giving Pledge, a project that encourages billionaires to promise to give away at least half of their wealth throughout their lifetime.

“I gave each organization a contribution and encouraged them to spend it on whatever they believe best serves their efforts,” Scott said about the unrestricted nature of her donation.

“I recommend Easterseals – and the other organizations I’ve supported – to anyone similarly excited by the idea of empowering leaders well positioned to accelerate progress. Every one of them is tackling complex challenges that will require sustained effort over many years, while simultaneously addressing consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The gift will allow life-changing services to continue for Easterseals Southwest Florida clients across their lifetimes, including with quality diagnosis and early intervention, impactful therapies, formidable education platforms, vital enrichment programs, critical enhancement of the Autism Center of Excellence & Related Disabilities as well as traditional and virtual reality employment services.

Easterseals Happiness House provides exceptional therapies and services for individuals with disabilities and their families by empowering them to fully participate in life. The agency began serving the Southwest Florida region in 1946 and fosters environments where everyone is included and valued, regardless of age or abilitiy.