Jeff Bezos And Wife, Mackenzie, Launch $2 Billion Fund To Fight Homelessness And Boost Education

Power couple
Jeff and Mackenzie Bezos
(Photo: Reuters)

The world's richest person, Jeff Bezos (who's worth about $170 billion) continues his unique form of charity he calls "strategic philanthropy" by committing $2 billion to fund U.S. non-profit organizations helping the homeless and fostering education.

Bezos made the $2 billion donations with his wife, MacKenzie, to the "Bezos Day One Fund."The fund will consist of two segments: the Day 1 Family Fund to help homeless families, and the Day 1 Academies Fund that will build a network of new, non-profit, tier-one preschools in low-income communities.

Bezos said the fund will issue annual leadership awards to organizations doing compassionate and palpable work to provide shelter and hunger support that addressed the immediate needs of young families. The fund will also provide full scholarships for Montessori-inspired preschools in underserved communities, said Bezos.

This donation is the latest in a long line of strategic philanthropic investments dating back a decade. Bezos himself explained he doesn't do charity but is more interested in making direct donations through non-profits and other charitable organizations. He once said he'd rather address systemic inequalities rather than engage in outright charity.

His abhorrence for charity is characteristic of Bezos, who was once famously described as a needlessly quantitative and data-driven geek uninterested in philanthropy. Bezos normally makes his strategic philanthropic investments through his venture capital firm, Bezos Expeditions.

Bezos has often been criticized for not contributing his fortune to philanthropy like other billionaires such as Microsoft founder Bill Gates and Berkshire Hathaway's Warren Buffett. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is the world's largest philanthropy and focuses on battling infectious diseases and improving education.

Bezos' personal focus on helping the homeless jibes with work done by Amazon.com, the company he founded, and which is now the world's largest e-commerce retail firm. Earlier this year, Amazon partnered with Mary's Place, a Seattle non-profit, to build a permanent homeless shelter in its headquarters at Seattle. It previously helped Mary's Place temporarily house 200 homeless people.

In January, Bezos made a $33 million donation to TheDream.US, a college scholarship fund for undocumented immigrants brought to the United States when they were minors. In June, he donated to Bill Gates' Breakthrough Energy Ventures, a private philanthropic coalition aimed at promoting emissions-free energy.

Earlier this month, Bezos and his wife donated $10 million to With Honor, a non-partisan organization and super PAC looking to increase the number of veterans running for political office. The amount donated by the Bezos' was equivalent to one-third of the organization's $30 million funding goal.

© 2018 Business Times All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.