The two philanthropists will support four teams of women as part of the Equality Can't Wait Challenge, an initiative to invest in and empower women leaders.
This is the power couple we deserve. Melinda French Gates and Mackenzie Scott are teaming up in order to support women across the United States. Their initiative, the Equality Can't Wait Challenge, is a competition "centered on gender and equality in the US." It also presents "an opportunity to invest in and empower women leaders." The four winners of the challenge, all women, have proposed several innovative ways to empower and improve the lives of women and gender non-conforming people in the country. These inventive projects may come to fruition thanks to the philanthropy of French Gates and Scott, who are set to award $40 million to the contest winners, CNN reports.
The competition is being hosted by French Gates' investment firm Pivotal Ventures, with financial support from Scott and her husband, Dan Jewett, as well as from the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Philanthropies. The four contest winners (Family Values @ Work; Oxfam America; Digital Harbor Foundation/Last Mile Education Fund; and The 19th*) were chosen from among 550 applicants. Their projects include instituting publicly supported infrastructure for childcare and other forms of caregiving; building upskilling tools for women interested in software development careers; accelerating young women's trajectories through college and their early careers, and developing impactful businesses owned by women from Indigenous backgrounds.
In a statement, Scott affirmed, "The awardees are strong teams working on the front lines and from within communities to help women build power in their lives and careers." French Gates added, "We can break the patterns of history and advance gender equality, but we must commit to lifting up organizations, like the ones receiving awards today, that are ready to lift up women and girls." The two women, who were formerly married to Seattle-based tech founders Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos, respectively, are evidently philanthropic bigwigs in their own right. The Equality Can't Wait Challenge is only one of their many humanitarian efforts.
Both women, who are among some of the richest people in the world, have signed up for The Giving Pledge. This means they have promised to give away the majority of their wealth in their lifetimes. Already, Scott has donated almost $1.7 billion of her fortune to 116 organizations focused on one of nine "areas of need," including racial equity, LGBTQ+ equity, functional democracy, and climate change. Meanwhile, French Gates is still the co-chair of The Gates Foundation. The foundation has funneled significant funding to COVID-19 research and vaccination efforts over the past year and a half, among other initiatives. Furthermore, with Pivotal Ventures, she supports women working in key sectors, such as technology, political office, and other efforts. To learn more about the winners of this round of the Equality Can't Wait Challenge, you can visit the competition's official website here.