Bezos Pledges $2 Billion To Help Homeless Families And Launch A Network Of Preschools

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Jeff Bezos, chief executive officer of Amazon.com and founder of Blue Origin. at the unveiling of the Blue Origin New Shepard system during the Space Symposium in Colorado Springs, Colorado, on April 5, 2017. MUST CREDIT: Bloomberg photo by Matthew Staver.

Jeff Bezos on Thursday announced that he was standing up philanthropic organizations focused on providing help to homeless families and preschools that would serve low-income communities.

Bezos, the founder of Amazon.com, said he would begin with an initial commitment of $2 billion to create what he called the Day One Foundation. It was the result, he said in a statement, of a months-long campaign to solicit philanthropic ideas from the public.

The announcement comes a few weeks after the first major political contribution from Bezos and his wife MacKenzie-a $10 million gift to a super PAC focused on electing veterans to public office. (Bezos also owns The Washington Post.)

Bezos, the richest man in the world, with a net worth estimated at about $150 billion, has been criticized for not doing more to support charities, the way that other billionaires have, such as Bill Gates, Warren Buffett and Mark Zuckerberg. And Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., has held him up as an example of a leader of a company that doesn’t pay its workers enough.

“Thousands of Amazon workers have to rely on food stamps, Medicaid and public housing to survive,” Sanders tweeted earlier this month. “That is what a rigged economy looks like.”

On Twitter, Bezos said he would create a “Families Fund” that would “issue annual leadership awards to organizations and civic groups doing compassionate, needle-moving work to provide shelter and hunger support to address the immediate needs of young families.”

A separate “Academies Fund” would open and operate “a network of high-quality, full-scholarship, Montessori-inspired preschools in underserved communities,” he wrote.

Last year, Bezos took to Twitter to request ideas for how he use his vast fortune for good. He wrote that he wanted to help “people in the here and now – short term – at the intersection of urgent need and lasting impact.”

In coming to his decision on what areas to pursue, he said on Twitter Thursday that he wanted to continue finding ways to improve society from one generation to the next. “Where’s the good in the world, and how can we spread it?” he wrote. “Where are the opportunities to make things better? These are exciting questions.”

He cited his work at his space company, Blue Origin, and his investment, estimated now at $1 billion a year, “in the future of our planet and civilization through the development of foundational space infrastructure.”

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

In fighting homelessness, he said was inspired by Mary’s Place, which is dedicated to helping the homeless in Amazon’s hometown of Seattle. And in serving communities in need with new preschools, he said he would focus on children the way Amazon does its customers.

“The child will be the customer,” he wrote.

 (c) 2018, The Washington Post · Christian Davenport 

{Matzav.com}

 

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