May 20, 2022
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Oxnard Boys & Girls Clubs on MacKenzie Scott’s latest gift list

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The Boys & Girls Clubs of Oxnard and Port Hueneme recently received a $3.2 million gift from MacKenzie Scott. (courtesy photo)

Amazon billionaire MacKenzie Scott gave $3.2 million to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Oxnard and Port Hueneme in her latest round of philanthropy, the biggest gift in the organization’s history and one about equivalent to its budget for a year.

Scott published a blog post on March 23 announcing that she’d given $3.86 billion to 465 nonprofits since last June, bringing her total since 2020 to more than $12 billion. Her gift to the Boys & Girls Clubs brings Scott’s gifts to organizations in the tri-county region to almost $90 million, including $50 million to Direct Relief in Santa Barbara, $20 million to Santa Barbara City College and $15 million to CSU Channel Islands.

The gift to the Boys & Girls Clubs followed Scott’s usual pattern: Her team of advisers researched the organization and decided it would be a worthy recipient, and no one from the Boys & Girls Clubs heard from them until the decision had been made.

That was in late January, said Erin Antrim, the CEO of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Oxnard and Port Hueneme. Scott’s team asked the organization to keep the news to itself until Scott was ready to make a public announcement.

“There’s a lot of secrecy,” Antrim said. “Her team does an extreme amount of due diligence. … They did a lot of research on our organization, our leadership, the board, how we invest our money in the kids, and then they came to us with the gift. At first, I didn’t believe it. It didn’t seem real.”

The group’s need has never been greater. The Boys & Girls Clubs operates 18 locations in greater Oxnard and Port Hueneme, including three full-size clubs, four smaller neighborhood clubs, and a number of clubs located at schools in the area. Around 3,400 children are members, Antrim said, and the organization’s operating budget in recent years is very close to the $3.2 million Scott has donated.

That operating budget has doubled since 2019 as the Boys & Girls Clubs expanded its services to meet the demands of the pandemic. Many children in Oxnard and Port Hueneme had no one at home to watch them and help them with remote school, because their parents work in agriculture, retail or another industry where working from home wasn’t an option. The Boys & Girls Clubs stepped up.

“During COVID, when schools shut down, we opened from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., and we didn’t know how we were going to pay for that,” Antrim said. “I knew, as the leader of the organization. that was the right thing to do, but I didn’t know how we’d do it. … We just put our nose to the grindstone, and the community helped us.”

Scott’s gift should enable to Boys & Girls Clubs to double in size to around 7,000 members, she said.

“The need is greater now than it was two years ago,” Antrim said. “Kids are facing some real serious mental health challenges, social and emotional challenges, academic challenges, we’re positioned to help those kids.”