Dakota Medical Foundation gets 'game-changer' $10M gift from MacKenzie Scott

The foundation will decide how to invest the gift, with one likely use to provide mental health services for youth.

Dakota Medical Foundation.jpg
Dakota Medical Foundation in Fargo.
Courtesy of Dakota Medical Foundation
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FARGO — Dakota Medical Foundation is the recipient of a $10 million gift from philanthropist MacKenzie Scott that a leader said will help fund initiatives including mental health services.

The Fargo-based foundation announced the gift on Tuesday, Nov. 15, from Scott, the former wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, as part of a round of donations totaling almost $2 billion to support "voices and opportunities of people from underserved communities."

Pat Traynor, Dakota Medical Foundation's executive director, called the gift a "game-changer" that has prompted the organization to reexamine what it's doing to improve the community's health.

"We're beyond thrilled, we really are," he said. "We're going to take some time to ensure that we're quite thoughtful and listen to our stakeholders. It's a great time for reflection when something like this happens."

Dakota Medical Foundation will consult with its network of partners and stakeholders to decide what to do with the donation. Traynor expects to have a plan early next year, following its Giving Hearts Day fundraiser on Feb. 9, which will benefit 500 charities in the area.


"We're going to be quite deliberative," he said. The gift was made possible by the involvement of a vast network of collaborators and partners, Traynor said.

"This gift reflects the tireless efforts of the thousands of charities, donors and volunteers we've been so blessed to work with over the years through Giving Hearts Day and other community initiatives," he said. "A gift like this is truly a game-changer and will be a catalyst to inspire others to join a movement to do good for others."

One focus will be to address the mental health crisis, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and the social isolation it has caused.

"It's clear the mental health crisis in our region is an epidemic," he said, adding that the gift will increase the foundation's efforts in child sexual abuse prevention and crisis relief, among other areas.

Scott also donated $10 million to the YMCA of Cass-Clay and $2 million to the YWCA Emergency Shelter in Fargo.

Patrick Springer first joined The Forum in 1985. He covers a wide range of subjects including health care, energy and population trends. Email address:
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