Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos launches a $2 billion philanthropic fund


Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos launches a $2 billion philanthropic fund

The fund will issue annual leadership awards to organizations and civic groups doing work to "move the needle" in providing hunger and shelter support to young families.

The Day 1 Academies Fund will launch and operate a network of high-quality, full-scholarship, Montessori-inspired pre-schools in low-income and underserved communities, he said.

Bezos, now the world's richest person, asked Twitter followers a year ago for ideas about how he should shape his "philanthropy strategy". When Seattle passed a tax in May on large companies to fight the city's growing homelessness crisis, Amazon balked and even temporarily halted construction planning on a new high-rise building near its headquarters. An Amazon.com Inc. spokeswoman said the $2 billion will all come from Bezos. "The child will be the customer". While he has financially supported cancer research and scholarships for immigrants, among other causes, Bezos has primarily devoted his fortune to his Blue Origin rocket company, which he described Thursday as an "investment in the future of our planet through the development of foundational space infrastructure".

Bezos is worth $164 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, a sum mostly derived from the about 16 percent stake in Amazon that he owns. "We will build an organization to directly operate these schools", he added.

Amazon has a history of supporting homeless programs in Seattle. How he would use that fortune for philanthropy has always been a point of discussion, especially after June 2017 when he solicited ideas on Twitter for ways he could make a difference.

It also falls short of the "giving pledge" initiative launched by Gates and billionaire investor Warren Buffett, who have encouraged wealthy individuals to pledge half their fortunes for philanthropy. The Seattle-based Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation as the world's largest private nonprofit foundation has an endowment worth over $40 billion U.S. and has long supported homelessness services for families in the city.