By Jamie Leary

BRECKENRIDGE, Colo (CBS4)- When a generous donation of $1,000,000 landed in the hands of an unexpecting Colorado nonprofit, they were skeptical.

“When we first heard about it I was like, ‘That’s not going to happen. Somebody’s pranking us, this is not for real,’ because it was very mysterious. They wouldn’t identify themselves as of yet. NDAs had to be signed,” said Stephen Brackett, Director of Innovation and Incubation for Youth on Record.

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Earlier this month, Youth on Record announced the gift came from MacKenzie Scott and her spouse, Dan Jewett. Scott, a philanthropist, and former wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, announced earlier this month they would be giving away $2.7 billion to 286 charities that have been historically underfunded. Youth on Record was one of the recipients.

MacKenzie Scott

MacKenzie Scott (file photo credit: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

“When it actually occurred, it was elation. And then there was this immediate sense of responsibility. How do we use this to meet the multi-million-dollar need of young people post-COVID?” said Brackett.

In its 11th year, YOR is more determined than ever to reach youth across Colorado and beyond. In part of its mission statement, the nonprofit says its,

“education, music, and community programs are designed to help young people become more free, more rooted in their personal power, and better able to thrive in spite of systems and circumstances that dis-empower and marginalize them. YOR designs and implements strengths-based, music-centered programs intended to equip young people from historically under-resourced communities with skills needed to find success in life by advancing their academic success, increasing their economic opportunities and career skills, and strengthening their community connections and networks.”

“We’re trying to expand these services so we can really show up and help these students who are in need so we can do more programs like we’re doing in Breckenridge or the programs that we’ve done in Brush, Colorado on the Eastern Plains around suicide awareness and suicide prevention,” said Brackett.

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Recently YOR partnered with Breckenridge Creative Arts as part of its effort to reach kids across the state. The organization was looking for artists relevant to youth in the community, to find ways to connect and get them through the pandemic.

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“Youth on Record was our answer to that. We look to them because they’re the experts specifically with marginalized communities,” said Tamara Nuzzaci-Park, Acting CEO and President of Breckenridge Creative Arts.

Brackett cited a recent article from Children’s Hospital Colorado that says children are out of resiliency and demand for pediatric mental health care has skyrocketed.

“So for us, the $1 million, we’re like this is a beautiful opportunity and how do we leverage that to start reaching like this, multi-million dollar need, because right now we’re in the middle of a second pandemic — a mental health crisis,” said Brackett.

This is all part of their “Big Idea,” a $4 million project. YOR says in addition to launching the “Big Idea,” the organization will use the funds to increase employee benefits, including offering retirement and health care for part-time employees, and mental wellness stipends for their team. YOR also plans to expand their offices to meet the needs of their growing team of local musicians.

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Jamie Leary