Published: Fri, September 14, 2018
Research | By Clarence Powell

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos launches a $2 bln philanthropic fund

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos launches a $2 bln philanthropic fund

The wealth that Bezos has amassed hasn't come without controversy, as many critics point to poor working conditions at his facilities while others say he doesn't do enough for the public good.

The charitable fund will "focus on two areas", Bezos explained: "funding existing non-profits that help homeless families, and creating a network of new, non-profit, tier-one pre-schools in low-income communities".

He said: "We'll use the same set of principles that have driven Amazon".

Jeff Bezos, president and CEO of Amazon and owner of The Washington Post, speaks at the Economic Club of Washington DC's "Milestone Celebration Dinner" in Washington, U.S., September 13, 2018. The 54-year-old CEO said his team curated more than 47,000 responses and homelessness and education emerged as issues important to large numbers of people, including himself.

The second will operate a network of high-quality, full-scholarship Montessori-inspired preschools.

Bezos hinted earlier this year that he would take on a major philanthropic project after asking his Twitter followers for ideas on how to give away his money.

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Bezos's wealth has allowed him to pay for side ventures, including starting space exploration company Blue Origin and buying the Washington Post newspaper. "It's okay. It's part of the process", Bezos said.

He said he was supporting "American democracy through stewardship of the Washington Post" and pointed to the contributions he has given to cancer research, marriage equality and college scholarships for immigrant students.

Bezos, the reigning world's richest man, released a statement on Twitter on Thursday explaining that he and his wife MacKenzie were committing $2 billion to launch a new initiative called the Bezos Day One Fund. However, he said it is unsafe for politicians to "demonize the media".

Bezos said Trump and other public figures should expect public and media scrutiny, which he called "healthy". Business innovators who invent products that empower, authors who write books that inspire, government officials who serve their communities, teachers, doctors, carpenters, entertainers who make us laugh and cry, parents who raise children who go on to live lives of courage and compassion, and many more.

Since then, he and his wife have built the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which had an endowment of US$51 billion at the end of 2017 and pledges to spend all its resources within 20 years of its founders' deaths.

Bezos, now the world's richest person, asked Twitter followers a year ago for ideas about how he should shape his "philanthropy strategy".

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