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Knoxville Area Urban League receives $1.5 million from philanthropist MacKenzie Scott
November 2, 2022; 10:35 a.m.

KNOXVILLE -- Today, the Knoxville Area Urban League announced a transformational gift that will allow the organization to dramatically expand and enhance the reach of its empowerment programs.

Philanthropist and author MacKenzie Scott donated $1.5 million, the largest single contribution in the affiliate’s history.

“We are immensely grateful that MacKenzie Scott recognized the Knoxville Area Urban League’s life-changing impact on disadvantaged residents,” said Phyllis Y. Nichols, president and CEO of the Urban League. “It overjoys us to be a recipient of such a transformational gift, which will help us empower more African Americans and members of other minority groups.”

“Our board of directors and staff thank Ms. Scott for entrusting us to create long-lasting and positive change in the communities we serve with her generous gift.”

The affiliate will use the donation to sustain and strengthen its education, workforce, housing and entrepreneurship initiatives. The funds also will assist the nonprofit as Charles F. Lomax Jr., the incoming president and CEO, transitions into leadership and establishes a future path for the organization. The Knoxville Area Urban League is one of 25 National Urban League affiliates around the country that received similar donations from Scott, who in 2019 signed The Giving Pledge, a promise by the world’s richest individuals and families to dedicate the majority of their wealth to charitable causes.

Scott’s gift follows a successful Equal Opportunity Awards Gala, where a $250,000 endowment for the newly established Phyllis Y. Nichols Scholarship was announced, and the new president and CEO was introduced.

“This significant investment is the latest of major milestones for the Knoxville Area Urban League, and it will not be the last” Nichols said. “We are eager to continue serving and improving our community with the blessings that have been bestowed upon us in the years ahead.”

Since 1968, the Knoxville Area Urban League has assisted disadvantaged people attain social and economic stability and self-sufficiency through direct services and advocacy. The League works to provide a skilled and diverse workforce; to increase homeownership; to support economic and small business development, and to enhance education efforts for our youth. The Knoxville Area Urban League is a United Way partner agency and affiliate of the National Urban League. The League’s work and results are evident in the lives of the over 12,000 people it impacts each year. For more information, call 865-524-5511 or visit


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