Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos launches a $2 billion philanthropic fund

Christopher Davidson
September 14, 2018

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".

The world's richest man announced the move in a tweet, saying the charity would be called the Day One Fund.

The Day 1 Academies Fund will launch and operate a network of high-quality, full-scholarship, Montessori-inspired preschools in underserved communities.

With a personal fortune of $163.8 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, the Inc. chief executive officer had previously been largely invisible in the world of philanthropy.

Helping the homeless has also been a focus for Amazon. Its vision statement comes from Mary's Place in Seattle: no child sleeps outside. In 2016, it renovated a vacant hotel on land designated for its new headquarters so it could be used temporarily by the nonprofit group Mary's Place to give shelter to 200 homeless families.

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Earlier this month, Bezos and his wife donated $10 million to With Honor, a nonpartisan organization and super PAC looking to boost the number of veterans in politics.

Amazon declined to comment for this story but said Bezos does not plan to make any HQ2 announcements during his D.C. trip.

Bezos has yet to join "The Giving Pledge" created by fellow billionaires Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett, whose more than 180 signatories have promised to give more than half of their fortunes to philanthropy. Bezos also plans to pay a visit to The Washington Post, which he owns. It is a contrast to the long view that Bezos has preached at Amazon and Blue Origin, the space-travel technology company he has been funding with $1 billion a year through the sale of Amazon stock.

But then he changed his tune.

The announcement, made through a statement from Bezos, comes after the executive reached out past year to ask for suggestions on approaches to philanthropy. He said he was mulling a philanthropic strategy that is "the opposite of how I mostly spend my time".

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