PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Billionaire philanthropist MacKenzie Scott has included the Maine Community Foundation’s Maine Expansion Arts Fund and Yarmouth's 317 Main Community Center in her latest round of donations.
The Maine Expansion Arts Fund received $2.5 million and 317 Main Community Center in Yarmouth received $1.5 million, officials said Tuesday.
Leslie Goode, who manages the Maine Expansion Arts Fund, said the donation more than doubles the annual grant budget. The money will be used to expand outreach to organizations led by Black, indigenous and other people of color, she said.
The Expansion Arts Fund has been around since 1988. Last year it awarded grants to organizations such as the University of Maine Foundation to create a virtual Wabanaki Winter Market.
The Yarmouth community center, which serves as a hub for music education and community outreach, is committed to providing accessible and inclusive music education opportunities. There are no restrictions on how the money can be used, said John Williams, the group's executive director.
In a post on her Medium account, Scott, the former wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, highlighted the impact that arts organizations have on their local communities. The donations came from Scott and her husband, Dan Jewett, a science teacher who grew up in Maine.
Arts and cultural institutions strengthen communities by “transforming spaces, fostering empathy, reflecting community identity, advancing economic mobility, improving academic outcomes, lowering crime rates, and improving mental health,” she wrote.