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Billionaire philanthropist aids Bonton Farms, three other North Texas nonprofits

Billionaire philanthropist MacKenzie Scott aiding North Texas nonprofits
Billionaire philanthropist MacKenzie Scott aiding North Texas nonprofits 02:12

DALLAS – Billionaire philanthropist MacKenzie Scott announced this week she is giving $640 million to 361 nonprofits, including four based in North Texas.

Since 2019, Scott has given away more than $16 billion from the fortune she came into after divorcing Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.

Bonton Farms, an organization addressing systemic inequities in southern Dallas, is receiving $2 million.

"That was my tearjerker moment right there," said Gabe Madison, president of Bonton Farms. "I could not help but weep over this type of blessing that we received."

Bonton Farms started as a small community garden in 2014 to provide fresh produce for people who lived in the Bonton neighborhood.

"It has grown to be more than a farm because once you look at food deserts, you see there are other kinds of deserts," Madison said. "Lack of access to transportation, lack of access to affordable housing."

Bonton Farms now runs two fully functioning farms, a farmers market, coffee shop, and restaurant. They just broke ground on a new health and wellness center last December.

"We are really trying to transform lives by disrupting systems of inequity that have existed for decades," said Madison.

The $2 million donation will help fast track some long term projects, increasing access to healthcare and other wellness programs and creating affordable housing. It will also allow Bonton Farms to bring more people into their workforce development program.

"We are equipping people who were never equipped," Madison said. "They were never given the same playing field as people 12 miles up the highway."

Lanekka Wright started working at Bonton Farms in 2017.

"I'm a city girl, so no farm experience,"  Wright said.

Wright had to learn quickly, doing just about every job on the farm. She said she doesn't know where she'd be without Bonton Farms.

"Only God knows," Wright said. "The life that I lived before Bonton wasn't a bright future."

Now she's an ambassador for the farm.  She's on track to become a homeowner.

"It's no longer a job for me, it's a purpose," Wright said.

She hopes the attention Bonton Farms receives with the gift will inspire others to get involved with the organization.

More than 6,000 nonprofits applied for the $1 million grants when applications opened. The 279 nonprofits that received top scores from an external review panel were awarded $2 million, while 82 organizations in a second tier received $1 million each.

Dallas Afterschool, which provides free and low-cost after school care, received $1 million from Scott. The Prison Entrepreneurship Program and the Epilepsy Foundation of Texas were awarded $2 million each.

You can see the other Texas nonprofits that received funds HERE.

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