Billionaire MacKenzie Scott announced in a blog post This month she’s donating $ 2.7 billion to 286 organizations across the country – and one of them is the Alaska Native Heritage Center in Anchorage, a cultural center focused on the traditions and history of the Alaskan natives.

In an interview, Emily Edenshaw, president and CEO of the Alaska Native Heritage Center, did not disclose how much Scott had given, but said it was “several million dollars”.

Scott, who was previously married to Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, has so far donated more than $ 8 billion. Scott donated to 116 organizations last july then another 384 in December.

Edenshaw said she received a call in May from a representative of Scott’s team telling her the center had been selected to receive the unrestricted gift. It was unexpected, she said.

The funds will go towards infrastructure needs like heating, ventilation and air conditioning, as well as updating the Hall of Cultures at the Heritage Center and the six traditional Alaskan Native dwellings behind the building, among other projects, according to Edenshaw.

The Heritage Center will also expand existing programs, including its cultural boxes, art kits designed for children in kindergarten through high school students.

“Even though we’ve been in business for 22 years, (building an endowment is) still a work in progress and we want to realize that vision,” said Edenshaw. “So I think this gift will allow us to take really exciting steps in that direction.”

She said the gift allows the Heritage center to “catch our breath” and pull ourselves together after a difficult year.

“It’s really part of a bigger and bigger story of opening up new possibilities for the Heritage Center,” said Edenshaw.

The donation is remarkable, said Edenshaw, as Indigenous organizations and communities receive Less than 1% of all philanthropic dollars nationwide.

Scott wrote in her blog post that she and her team have made “relatively large” donations in “a signal of confidence and encouragement, for themselves and for others.”

Explaining the types of organizations that have received funding, Scott wrote: “Arts and cultural institutions can strengthen communities by transforming spaces, fostering empathy, reflecting community identity, advancing mobility economic, improving educational outcomes, reducing crime rates and improving mental health, so we evaluated small arts organizations creating these benefits with artists and audiences from culturally rich regions and identity groups that donors overlook. often.

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