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Goodwill of the Finger Lakes announces $10 Million from Philanthropist MacKenzie Scott

Jan 25, 2021

A message from Goodwill of the Finger Lakes CEO Jennifer Lake 

We are absolutely thrilled — and humbled — to share that our organization has received a $10 million gift from Ms. Scott. The gift is the result of our mission, our work, our team, our impact and our potential. It is by far the largest single donation in our 100+ year history. 

Goodwill’s humble roots date back to 1902. Our founder, Edgar Helms, believed there was more dignity in receiving a hand-up than a handout. He helped people learn skills to earn their own paychecks, providing opportunities to change their lives and their communities. 

Goodwill of the Finger Lakes has stepped up throughout the pandemic to support hundreds of thousands of individuals in need — through our Goodwill stores and warehouse, 211/LIFE LINE program and Vision Rehabilitation services through our ABVI program. “In the toughest times, we do the toughest work” is a phrase often used to describe nonprofit organizations, and I couldn’t agree more. Goodwill is proud to stand beside our health care professionals, who have indisputably carried the burden of the toughest work in our communities, sharing that sentiment and helping where we can to elevate their efforts.

Because of Ms. Scott’s generosity and belief in Goodwill of the Finger Lakes, we have an opportunity to truly innovate, invest and support our community on a broader level. With this extraordinary philanthropic gift, we will be able to fuel our community-based programs and social enterprise, provide job opportunities, and continue to grow our footprint and impact in our region. Most importantly, we will remain true to our mission: To prepare and empower people with barriers to independence to be self-sufficient and contribute to their families and communities. 

Our Board of Directors is leading a process to develop a multi-year strategic plan. Together, with community input, we will determine the best use and investment for these dollars. In the shorter term, as our own manufacturing, food service and retail social enterprises continue to be challenged financially because of the COVID-19 pandemic, this donation gives us the confidence to continue investing in the programs and services that our community depends on, especially during these difficult times.

Together, Goodwill of the Finger Lakes and United Way of Greater Rochester are committed to investing the gift back into our community. Ms. Scott has given me — has given all of us — a renewed sense of hope and confidence in our future. We will make our community better for it. This was her hand-up, just like Mr. Helms gave to so many in the early days of Goodwill. 

This is our hand-up moment. 

A message from Goodwill of the Finger Lakes Board Chair Susan Kitchen

This is an extraordinary moment for our organization and our community. Ms. Scott’s gift is an affirmation of the hard work and effectiveness of the entire Goodwill of the Finger Lakes family. I am thrilled for Jennifer and her team to be able to put this transformational gift to work for our community.