Jeff Bezos Launches $2 Billion Philanthropic Fund

Jeff Bezos Launches $2 Billion Philanthropic Fund

Amazon.com founder and CEO Jeff Bezos, widely reported to be the richest man in the world, has launched a $2 billion philanthropic effort focused on helping homeless families and starting preschools in low-income communities, NBC reports.

Announced via Twitter, the Day One Fund, which is named after Bezos's philosophy that every day should be approached as if it's the first day of a startup business, will be split between a Day One Families Fund that provides annual leadership awards to organizations and civic groups working to address the shelter and food security needs of young families, and the Day One Academies Fund, which will launch and operate a network of high-quality, full-scholarship Montessori-inspired preschools in underserved communities. According to Bezos's Twitter announcement, the preschools will "use the same set of principles that have driven Amazon."

The $2 billion commitment is merely a starting point for Bezos, the Seattle Times reports.

Despite his enormous wealth, Bezos has been slow to focus his energies on philanthropy, especially when compared to Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett, who rank right behind him in most lists of the wealthiest Americans and who in 2010 established the Giving Pledge, an effort focused on encouraging the world's wealthiest individuals and families to commit more than half of their wealth to philanthropy or charitable causes. Earlier this year, Bezos, who has not signed on to the campaign, pledged $33 million in support of college scholarships for undocumented immigrant students, and in 2017 he, along with his wife and parents, gave $35 million to the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, Amazon's hometown. Bezos made a splash in the summer of 2017 when he announced that he planned to crowdsource ideas for his philanthropy and noted that he had been inspired to think more about his giving by Mary's Place, a shelter for homeless families in Seattle.

"Our lives are better than our great grandparents' lives, and their lives were better than their great grandparents' lives before them," Bezos said on Twitter on Thursday. "If our own great grandchildren don't have lives better than ours, something has gone very wrong."

To read Bezos's statement announcing the fund, click here.

(Photo credit: Seattle City Council)