MacKenzie Bezos unveils her first public philanthropic effort—with a famous partner

By Arianne Cohen

MacKenzie Bezos is dipping her toe into the public philanthropy world as a divorcée. Her first publicly announced project offers a glimpse into her interests: helping women from all backgrounds gain more power. She is teaming up with a famous peer, Melinda Gates, to launch the Equality Can’t Wait Challenge, which will give $30 million to the organizations with the best plans to expand women’s influence in the United States by 2030.

The project website explains itself this way:

“We are looking for creative solutions to accelerate progress for women of all backgrounds in the United States by expanding their power and influence. This means we want more women, especially women of color, in positions to make decisions, control resources, and shape policies and perspectives in their homes, workplaces, and communities.”

Bezos has mostly laid low since her divorce from Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos last year. She has publicly joined the board of Blue Meridian, which uses an “investor mindset” to positively impact impoverished families and children, and she signed the Giving Pledge, committing to give away at least half of her $50 billion fortune. In 2014, she founded Bystander Revolution, an anti-bullying organization.

The Equality Can’t Wait Challenge utilizes the nonprofit infrastructure that Melinda Gates already has in place: It is funded through Pivotal Ventures, which is Melinda Gates’s five-year-old nonprofit on women’s issues and will be managed by Lever For Change, an organization that aims to feed capital to effect positive change, affiliated with the MacArthur Foundation.

Ten finalists will receive $100,000 and be in the running for grants of at least $10 million. College and 501(c)(3) organizations can see if they are eligible to apply with the assessment tool here.


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