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  4. MacKenzie Scott pledged to give $640 million to 361 organizations this year despite Elon Musk's insults. This video is a prime example of why that matters.

MacKenzie Scott pledged to give $640 million to 361 organizations this year despite Elon Musk's insults. This video is a prime example of why that matters.

Kwan Wei Kevin Tan   

MacKenzie Scott pledged to give $640 million to 361 organizations this year despite Elon Musk's insults. This video is a prime example of why that matters.
  • Elon Musk may not be fan of MacKenzie Scott's charity work.
  • But Scott's big donations are making a real difference to organizations that need the cash.

Elon Musk isn't a big fan of MacKenzie Scott's philanthropy, but for some, Scott's donations are making a real difference to their lives and work.

On Tuesday, Scott announced that she was giving away $640 million to 361 nonprofits, more than double the $250 million she had initially pledged in 2023.

One such beneficiary of Scott's giving is Brian Wallach, 43, who has amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, otherwise known as Lou Gehrig's disease. His nonprofit, I Am ALS, is receiving $2 million from Scott.

Wallach cofounded the nonprofit in 2019 with his wife, Sandra Abrevaya, after he was diagnosed with the illness in 2017. On Tuesday, the couple posted a video of themselves on X, formerly Twitter, reacting to the good news.

Abrevaya could be seen exclaiming with joy before breaking down in tears with Wallach.

"We both burst into happy tears. We did so because we knew how important this gift was to the ALS community," Wallach and Abrevaya said in a statement on Tuesday.

Wallach, a former Obama staffer who was also a federal criminal prosecutor, was 37 when he was diagnosed with the progressive neurodegenerative disease. He'd just welcomed his second daughter with Abrevaya when he was diagnosed.

"I will not see my daughters grow up," Wallach said in a congressional testimony in March 2019. "There is no cure, not because ALS can't be cured but because we have underfunded the fight against ALS year after year after year."

Wallach told Wired in a report published in June 2020 that ALS patients often had limited access to most ALS drug trials and that he was fighting to change that.

"Almost every time I went to go see a doctor — the best in the world — we would have to bring information about trials with us to discuss with them," Wallach told Wired.

"There was no question that everyone should have the same chance that I had to ask questions of doctors, to seek the care that we were seeking. Democratizing that power was a basic thing that we had to do," Wallach said in the same interview.

Wallach's struggle with the disease compelled him and his wife to start I Am ALS in January 2019.

Wallach's nonprofit has also received donations from other billionaire donors. In September 2019, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative pledged to donate $453,000 to I Am ALS.

Musk's insults didn't stop Scott from doubling down on her giving

Musk earlier this month singled Scott out for her charitable giving.

In a now-deleted X post from March 6, he wrote: "'Super rich ex-wives who hate their former spouse' should filed be listed among 'Reasons that Western Civilization died.'"

It isn't clear why Musk slammed Scott for her charity work, but he has been an avowed critic of corporate diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives.

Scott has donated to groups advocating for women's health and minority rights — and has continued to do so in this latest round of giving.

A large part of Scott's wealth comes from the $38 billion in Amazon shares she received when she divorced her ex-husband, Jeff Bezos. Scott was married to the Amazon founder for 25 years before they finalized their divorce in 2019.

Scott has since made a name for herself by channeling that wealth toward charity. Unlike most donors, who link their funding to specific reporting requirements, Scott has adopted a no-strings-attached approach toward her giving.

Lever for Change, the organization that assisted Scott with her philanthropic gifts, says 279 nonprofits will be receiving $2 million each, while the remaining 82 organizations are getting $1 million each.

"The Open Call received 6,353 applications and initially planned for 250 awards of $1 million each," Lever for Change said in a statement on Tuesday.

"In light of the incredible work of these organizations, as judged by their peers and external panelists, the donor team decided to expand the awardee pool and the award amount," the organization added.

Scott wrote in a post on her Yield Giving website that the 361 organizations she was donating to this year were "vital agents of change."

She also praised the beneficiaries for their "outstanding work advancing the voices and opportunities of individuals and families of meager or modest means, and groups who have met with discrimination and other systemic obstacles."

Representatives for Scott at Lever for Change said they wouldn't be sharing additional information about Scott's decision-making process and directed Business Insider to her Yield Giving website.

Representatives for Wallach at I Am ALS didn't immediately respond to requests for comment from BI sent outside regular business hours.


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