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'It was an emotional moment': Twin Cities nonprofit gets $1.9M donation from MacKenzie Scott

Junior North Achievement receives $1.9 million donation
Junior North Achievement receives $1.9 million donation 02:30

ST. PAUL, Minn. – Junior Achievement North is the recipient of a multi-million dollar donation from philanthropist MacKenzie Scott.

The organization announced Tuesday that Scott, ex-wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, would be giving $1.9 million, as part of a $38.8 million donation to Junior Achievement USA.

"It was an emotional moment for me," said Junior Achievement North President and CEO Sara Dziuk. "It was a really excited for me, I just felt very honored that they'd identify us as an organization doing good work and want to support us."

Dziuk says the gift represents 40 percent of the organization's annual budget, though the organization plans to spread the gift over multiple years.

Junior Achievement North works to provide career exploration, mentorship and entrepreneurship training to students between kindergarten and 12th grade. Dziuk says Scott's donation will allow them to increase their students served in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and North Dakota from 80,000 to 100,000 in the coming year.

In addition, Dziuk says they're working to double the percentage of elementary school students they're serving from underprivileged communities.

"(This donation) will allow us to really support the impact strategy and growth strategy that we have in place to be building financial stability with young people, and expose students to real life skills and careers and igniting youth entrepreneurship," she said.

For volunteers, the gift is a sign that others see their commitment is paying dividends.

"The interaction with the students, the appreciation from the teachers within the districts that we serve, it's just an amazing feeling to know that you're walking out of a school and know that you made an impact," said Trysh Olson, who volunteers for Junior Achievement North through her position at Wings Credit Union.

"It's going to open up the doors for so many more teachers and so many more students to have virtual lessons as well as in person lessons," Olson said.

"It has been nothing short of challenging for this organization and so many others the last couple of years," Dziuk said. "But we've weathered it and come out stronger. I believe that this gift is testament to that. We're positioned for growth, impact to the community and stronger partnerships."

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