▶ Watch Video: Education nonprofit CEO on “transformative” $133.5 million donation from Mackenzie Scott

A donation from billionaire philanthropist MacKenzie Scott could help millions of students who have had their lives and education impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Scott, the ex-wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, has donated $133.5 million to the education nonprofit Communities In Schools.

The organization’s staff work at schools to help students navigate issues inside and outside the classroom — coordinating with schools and local services to ensure students can access critical resources like food, housing, physical and mental health care, and remote technology. 

Rey Saldaña, the president and CEO of Communities in Schools, told “CBS Mornings” that he was overwhelmed with joy when he heard the news.

“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity because you think about all of the work that you can do,” Saldaña said.

Currently, the program is in 2,900 schools across the country, serving 1.6 million students in 26 states. During the 2020-21 school year, 99% of students enrolled in CIS programs remained in school through the end of the school year and 96% were promoted to the next grade level. Saldaña said the donation is going to help break some barriers that students are faced with. 

“What this allows us to do is really bring community support inside our schools to empower students to not just graduate from school but achieve in life,” he said. 

Saldaña, who is an alum of the program, said he has not spoken with Scott yet but would like to thank her for the donation and the optimism it has brought.

“To think about, we have this twinkle in our eye about growing into every Title 1 school. We are in 3,000 schools today, this helps us drive and because so much pressure has come down because of the pandemic, we can now bring more staff into the schools that we’re in already. This is amazing,” Saldaña said.

Scott’s gift is the largest unrestricted donation in CIS’s history.