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HFH SCNJ receives transformational gift from MacKenzie Scott

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

We are excited to announce that Habitat for Humanity of South Central New Jersey received a transformative gift of $4.5 million from author and philanthropist MacKenzie Scott. This gift is part of a larger total donation of $436 million dispersed between 83 other U.S. affiliates and Habitat for Humanity International.  

What a surreal experience! Initially, we were at a loss for words when hearing about the receipt of this gift. Now, we can’t stop thinking and talking about how this blessing can uplift and elevate our work to fulfill our mission in Burlington, Mercer, and Atlantic Counties. Not only is this gift life-changing, transformative, and empowering; it is monumental and historical, as it is the largest unrestricted gift Habitat for Humanity of South Central New Jersey has received thus far.  

This generous gift honors Habitat SCNJ’s rich 35 year history, supports its present efforts, and preserve the organization’s future. Over the next 3 years, Habitat for Humanity of South Central New Jersey will use the donation to address the most urgent needs of its expansive, 77-municipality service area at a greater capacity by building 30 new and improving 150 existing homes throughout Burlington, Mercer, and Atlantic Counties. It will also empower Habitat SCNJ to reach long-term goals through the exploration and development of new programs needed to serve families in a more comprehensive manner, as well as invest in professional development for the Habitat workforce. 

The past 35 years have been so fulfilling for us at Habitat for Humanity of South Central New Jersey because of the incredible community support we have received. Our supporters, old and new, have made every step on our journey up to this point possible. We’ve always believed in the power and grace of small acts of kindness. We have seen it in action that small, everyday acts have the power to spread, to influence others, and to become grander acts, like this gift we are so blessed to receive.  

CEO Lori Leonard emphasizes the importance of this gift and shares, “I am so humbled that we have been selected to receive this transformative gift. Our team has worked incredibly hard over the past several years to grow our Habitat so that we can serve more people. This donation is recognition for all that we have accomplished, as well as the donor’s faith and trust in our ability to accomplish even more.” 

She goes on to say, “Knowing the struggle that people who live in overcrowded and unaffordable housing have faced during the pandemic, while their opportunity to purchase a decent, affordable home was put on hold – well this donation couldn’t have come at a more crucial time! We have the land, we have the blueprints, and NOW we have the resources! I am so grateful that we will literally be able to build and repair more homes as we continue to advocate for systemic and societal changes to improve equitable access to affordable housing in NJ.” 

Our work helps families throughout south and central New Jersey, and with this gift, the impact goes beyond our backdoor thanks to the support of the Habitat network. Habitat International will use its $25 million portion of the donation to amplify the work of local Habitat affiliates and prioritize advocacy and programmatic efforts designed to dismantle systemic racism in housing. Specifically, the donation will allow Habitat to advocate for policy proposals and legislation that enable millions of people access affordable housing through its Cost of Home advocacy campaign; increase Black homeownership in the U.S. by targeting current systemic barriers through a new initiative that will launch this summer; and leverage innovative capital investments that service communities of color.   

“Habitat works to break down barriers and bring people together — to tear down obstacles and build a world where everyone, no matter who we are or where we come from, has a decent place to live,” said Habitat for Humanity International CEO Jonathan Reckford. “This incredible gift helps make that work possible.” 

With your support, our work continues. We are so grateful for your partnership and commitment. 


"This donation couldn’t have come at more crucial time! We have the land, we have the blueprints, and NOW we have the resources!"

About Habitat for Humanity of South Central New Jersey  

Habitat for Humanity of South Central New Jersey (Habitat SCNJ) is an independent affiliate of Habitat for Humanity International, which operates through independent, local affiliates to ensure that all functions of the organization have maximum relevance and impact on individual communities. In January 2022, the affiliate changed its name to reflect its expanded service area, which covers Burlington, Mercer, Atlantic and parts of Middlesex Counties. You can find affordable homeownership and home repair projects from Coast to Capital, as well as ReStore locations in Egg Harbor Township, Hamilton and Maple Shade. Since its inception, the affiliate has built 283 and repaired 214 homes for low- and moderate-income families, serving 77 municipalities and over 1.1 million residents. To learn more about Habitat SCNJ, visit 


About Habitat for Humanity International
Driven by the vision that everyone needs a decent place to live, Habitat for Humanity found its earliest inspirations as a grassroots movement on an interracial community farm in south Georgia. Since its founding in 1976, the Christian housing organization has grown to become a leading global nonprofit working in local communities across all 50 states in the U.S. and in more than 70 countries. Families and individuals in need of a hand up partner with Habitat for Humanity to build or improve a place they can call home. Habitat homeowners help build their own homes alongside volunteers and pay an affordable mortgage. Through financial support, volunteering or adding a voice to support affordable housing, everyone can help families achieve the strength, stability and self-reliance they need to build better lives for themselves. Through shelter, we empower. To learn more, visit