Published: Fri, September 14, 2018
Business | By Tara Barton

Amazon's Jeff Bezos unveils $2bn philanthropic fund

Amazon's Jeff Bezos unveils $2bn philanthropic fund

On Twitter, he posted a screenshot of an announcement pledging to donate $2 billion to fund "existing non-profits that help homeless families, and [create] a network of new, non-profit, tier-one preschools in low-income communities".

Bezos made the announcement on Twitter a year after asking for ideas on how he could use his personal fortune - now estimated at more than $160 billion - for charitable efforts.

The "Day 1 Academies Fund" will start an organization to operate a new network of full-scholarship pre-schools for low-income communities. Last year, Bezos said that he wanted to use philanthropy to help solve society's issues in the "here and now". "In the caption, he wrote, "September is Childhood Cancer Awareness month", he further wrote that Amazon employees around the globe will be wearing pjs to work to show their solidarity and support to children suffering from the deadly disease".

Bezos and his wife MacKenzie Bezos sit on the board of the Bezos Family Foundation, run by his parents.

"If you're the president of the United States, you don't take that job thinking you're not going to be scrutinized", Bezos said, adding that he'd had "a couple of conversations" with Donald Trump, though he declined to elaborate. (The foundation was formed from the merger of two smaller, pre-existing efforts: the William H. Gates Foundation and the Gates Learning Foundation.) The organization, which is focused on global health and education, has distributed $46 billion to grant recipients through past year. "But it is really unsafe to demonize the media".

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Some of the world's richest people have begun giving away their wealth while still running companies, while others embrace philanthropy full-time after stepping away from day-to-day business.

"We will build an organisation to directly operate these schools".

Demonising the media and calling them "the enemies of the people" is unsafe, Bezos said. "If you can give somebody a leg up when they're 2, 3 or 4 years old, by the time they get to kindergarten of first grade, they're much less likely to fall behind". It's also social norms that protect us.

Gates has also, with billionaire investor Warren Buffett, encouraged wealthy individuals to pledge half their fortunes to worthy causes. Some activists and politicians have partly blamed the city's problems on Amazon.

In 2016, Amazon renovated a vacant hotel on land designated for its new headquarters so it could be used temporarily by the non-profit Mary's Place to shelter 200 homeless families.

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