Isaiah house gets $2 million gift

Zammeah Bivins-Gibson, executive director of Isaiah House.

Isaiah House, a homeless shelter on North Munn Avenue in East Orange, recently announced it was receiving a $2 million grant from philanthropist and billionaire MacKenzie Scott and her organization, Yield Giving.

“This is real. I could not speak,” said Zammeah Bivins-Gibson, executive director of Isaiah House. “I kept saying ‘Thank you God’ over and over again. We were excited.

We were very proud of ourselves. This organization was able to be seen for what it is.”

MacKenzie Scott helped her ex husband, Jeff Bezos, found and run Amazon. When they divorced in 2019, she owned a 4 % stake in the company. Her current net worth is estimated at about $40 billion. She has given a total of $14 billion to more than 1600 charitable organizations since December of 2022.

Yield Giving had an “open call” that attracted more than 6,353 applications, with an initial plan to award 250 organizations $1 million each. Isaiah House was among the highest ranked organizations to apply and was awarded a $2 million grant.

“We provide a dignified service,” Bivins-Gibson said. “People come to us in a vulnerable state. We don’t want people to feel worse than what they are. The fact that we’re being noticed felt so good. It gave us a push to do even better.”

Though Bivins-Gibson did not personally meet Scott, she said she wished she did.

“I never got to meet her,” she said. “But it’s emotional. I’ve seen that she’s given millions to Howard University—I went to Howard University. I was in such awe that she’d give unrestricted funds to colleges that were underrepresented. I felt this connection already. I would love an opportunity to really thank her and let her know.”

This grant marks the beginning of an exciting new chapter for Isaiah House, enabling the launch of their eagerly awaited facility on 14th Street in East Orange, which was their original location. When Bivins-Gibson came onboard with Isaiah House in 2004, her office was in that location.

“We’ve been trying to rehab the original building on 14th street,” said Bivins-Gibson. “We’re hoping to get it finished this year.”

This new location will support populations that have either exhausted eligibility for funding due to no fault of their own, don’t qualify for any funding source—such as undocumented families or those who fall slightly between the cracks—and unhoused women seeking support with sobriety so that they can remain with their children.

“Everyone here contributes,” said Bivins-Gibson. “It’s a group effort, not just the people at the top. There’s really an opportunity here. We have so many people in Isaiah House, so many years. We believe in our mission. We’re not getting rich here. If you show up anytime, we have nothing to hide. We want people to see us in action.”

For more than 35 years, Isaiah House has been dedicated to providing essential services to homeless and at-risk families in Essex County. Offering more than just shelter, Isaiah House provides comprehensive support, including food assistance, healthcare, educational programs, and job training, with a focus
on empowerment and long-term self-sufficiency.

During 2023, 207 individuals stayed in shelter programming; 51 percent of residents were under the age of 18; and 78 percent of residents moved to permanent independent housing.

To learn more about Isaiah House, visit:

The Isaiah House building on North Munn Avenue in East Orange.