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Jeff Bezos launches $2 billion philanthropic fund targeting homelessness, preschool education
14 September 2018, 03:56 | Justin Tyler
Jeff Bezos said he and his wife Mackenzie 'share a belief in the potential for hard work from anyone to serve others'
Jeff Bezos, Chairman and CEO of Amazon, speaks at the George W. Bush Presidential Center's Forum on Leadership in Dallas, Texas, U.S., April 20, 2018.
The Day 1 Families Fund will make annual awards to organizations "doing compassionate, needle moving work to provide shelter and hunger support to address the immediate needs of young families", while the Day 1 Academies Fund will start and operate a network of "full-scholarship, Montessori-inspired preschools in underserved communities", Bezos said.
Bezos, now the world's richest person, asked Twitter followers a year ago for ideas about how he should shape his "philanthropy strategy".
Amazon's main headquarters building in Seattle is also called Day 1.
A spokeswoman for Amazon did not offer further details on the new project. Forbes magazine placed him at the top of its list of billionaires for the first time this year, surpassing Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and investor Warren Buffett. "We will build an organization to directly operate these schools", he added. 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.
The announcement, made through a statement from Bezos, comes after the executive reached out a year ago to ask for suggestions on approaches to philanthropy. As per the current Giving Pledge signatory, Bezos is not participating.
Bezos is worth $164 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, a sum mostly derived from the about 16 percent stake in Amazon that he owns. In January, Bezos also personally gave $33 million USA in college scholarships for young immigrants living in the U.S. illegally.
The Amazon chief's wealth has become problematic for some. It also comes as tech giants like Amazon face the threat of tougher regulations to protect consumer privacy and complaints from the Republican-controlled Congress and White House over alleged liberal bias influencing how their offerings are presented to consumers.
Amazon has faced criticism for paying little in taxes, which stems in part from its historically low profits.
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