Urban League of Greater Madison receives multi-million-dollar donation

MADISON, Wis. — The Urban League of Greater Madison received a multi-million-dollar donation this week that will give the organization extra resources to provide community-based programming.

MacKenzie Scott — a philanthropist who has given to several Madison-area groups in the past — recently donated $2.9 million to the organization, making hers the largest single private donation in the affiliate’s 55-year history, according to a press release shared Monday.

“We’re honored and grateful that Ms. Scott and her team have recognized the Urban League’s value and impact to the community,” Ruben L. Anthony, Jr., president and CEO of ULGM said in a statement. “By placing racial equity and social justice at the forefront of her philanthropic mission, Ms. Scott is shining a much-needed spotlight on the nation’s structural and institutional limitations and is helping to build a stronger, more resilient society for everyone.”

Group leaders said they plan to $1 million of the funds to support the Black Business Hub, with the remaining funds going toward the Black Business Hub Accelerator Program and community development programs focused on career readiness, home ownership assistance and more.

“With that Black Business Hub, we are trying to address a lot of the disparities. We know that in Dane County there are more than 40,000 business with more than one employee, and of those businesses only 40 of those businesses are Black-owned businesses,” Anthony said.

RELATED: Groundbreaking held for Black Business Hub in south Madison

The remaining $1.9 million will be used to accelerate existing programs, such as housing programs that provide Black families with houses and homeowner training.

“That makes a big difference because it creates the opportunity for the transfer of generational wealth because for most families… that mortgage and that home is the thing that allows them to make an investment in the business, its the item that allows them to pay for their child’s college,” Anthony said.

In addition to youth programs, existing programs that will benefit also include job training.

“We also know that these businesses, they need to have training because a lot of times businesses are really good at delivering their specialty but they may not be good at doing accounting, doing HR, marketing. We want to provide those services, we want this to be a special place,” Anthony added.

Construction on the Black Business Center began back in April; once completed, the space will provide resources to help Black and BIPOC entrepreneurs network and develop their business ideas. Anthony says they plan on a June 2023 ribbon cutting.

Scott’s donation brings the project’s fundraising total to $22 million, just $4 million shy of the total goal.

Twenty-five Urban League affiliates around the country also received similar donations from Scott. In 2019, the philanthropist signed “The Giving Pledge,” promising to give a majority of her wealth to charitable causes.