There is nothing better than being able to give back. No matter how big or small, a financial donation, material donation, or donation of your time is always appreciated by non-profits. Luckily, there are people who have a buttload of money and actually give back in great ways.

The Girl Scouts of Eastern Iowa and Western Illinois received a surprise donation that could buy a lot of Girl Scout cookies. By a lot, I mean $1.4 million worth.

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In a press release on Tuesday, the Girl Scouts of Eastern Iowa and Western Illinois (GSEIWI) announced a $1.4 million donation from philanthropist MacKenzie Scott.

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Scott, a novelist, and philanthropist is also known best as the former wife of Amazon founder and billionaire, Jeff Bezos. The two divorced in 2019. She has a net worth of $33.4 billion and is the third wealthiest woman in the U.S., according to Wikipedia.

The GSEIWI says the generous gift is part of an $84.5 million donation awarded to Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA) and 29 councils selected by MacKenzie Scott, making this unprecedented investment the largest donation from a single individual in the national organization’s history. The local council, Girl Scouts of Eastern Iowa and Western Illinois is one of the 29 councils selected out of the 111 councils across the nation.

In total, the GSEIWI serves in 38 counties throughout Eastern Iowa and Western Illinois with 5 office locations (all in Iowa).

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Locally, this gift will enhance programs, expand the program model to reach more girls, create more equitable opportunities, and invest in talent in the region.

GSEIWI CEO, Diane Nelson said in the press release,

"Grateful is an understatement. We were so excited to find out that MacKenzie Scott is impressed by the impact local Girl Scouts are making. The girls in our community will change the world! With this substantial donation, we will expand the opportunities for girls to build their confidence and go out into the world to lead empathetically and dynamically.”

The Grant Impact

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This gift to Girl Scouts of Eastern Iowa and Western Illinois will support meeting the needs of today’s girls. This donation will enable the local council to expand its investment in local Girl Scouts and advance the organization’s recovery from the effects of COVID-19.

  • After collecting feedback from volunteers, parents, and girls, council staff have identified growth opportunities in programming access. The energized programs will be unveiled throughout the following membership year.
  • By expanding the community outreach programs at schools and community sites, every girl will have the opportunity to become a Girl Scout. The community outreach program model was developed to reach members who face barriers to participating in traditional troop settings.
  • Create more equitable membership opportunities in communities that have been historically under-engaged. This includes DEI-RJ initiatives, reimagining the troop experience model to break down accessibility barriers, and partnering with families and communities to holistically support the well-being and development of all girls.
  • Staff and volunteers are essential for creating experiences and opportunities for girls in the 38-county council region. Investing in the council’s talent will help attract and retain top visionaries passionate about empowering youth.

Nationally, this generous donation will accelerate GSUSA’s initiatives, giving girls the tools to become the next generation of influential female leaders.

Nelson added,

“Having a national philanthropist invest in our community is an important lead gift to ensure that Girl Scouts have the resresources needed to thrive. I have no doubt that the courage, confidence, and character today’s girls are building will lead to a bright future for everyone.”

The Girl Scouts Difference – Developing the Leaders of Tomorrow

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Today’s challenges are complex, interconnected, and, more than ever, global. Solving them will demand collaborative leadership and innovative perspectives. Girls represent humanity’s greatest untapped talent pool. Investing in them will produce the greatest return in economic development, social progress, and public health, improving not only individual lives but the fabric of society overall.

Each new investment enables Girl Scouts to become a unifier at the broadest level, harnessing the leadership skills of generations to come and ensuring an inclusive, empathetic, united, and equitable future.

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