Amazon’s Jeff Bezos unveils $2 bn fund for homeless, others

Cesar Mills
September 14, 2018

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

One part of the effort, dubbed the "Day 1 Families Fund", will give money to non-profit organizations that are "doing compassionate, needle-moving work to provide shelter and hunger support to address the immediate needs of young families", Bezos's message stated.

The second will launch a network of "high-quality, full-scholarship" preschools in low-income communities, which a Day One Fund organization will directly operate. Citing the Amazon mantra of customer obsession, Bezos said in a tweet here: "The child will be the customer". In addition to Amazon, my area of focus so far have included investment in the future of our planet and civilization through the development of foundational space infrastructure, support of American democracy through stewardship of the Washington Post, and financial contributions to the dedicated and innovative champions of a variety of causes, from cancer research, to marriage equality, to college scholarships for immigrant students, to decreasing political polarization through cross-partisan support of principles, next-generation military vets running for Congress.

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The staggering fortunes of the likes of Bezos, Gates and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg have created a second Gilded Age in the United States and "a new generation of megagivers", Callahan said.

The Bezos gift is one of the biggest single donations ever announced for preschools, if not the biggest, said Avo Makdessian, director of the Silicon Valley Community Foundation's Centre for Early Learning.

Gates did not fully throw himself into philanthropy until he stepped down as CEO of Microsoft in 2000. In August 2010, 40 of America's wealthiest individuals and couples joined together in a "Giving Pledge", which was a commitment spearheaded by Bill and Melinda Gates and Buffet for these wealthy individuals to give away more than half of their wealth. Alibaba owns the South China Morning Post. While his and Amazon investors' wealth increases-and the company's market capitalization approaches $1 trillion-what makes the business so efficient is that relies on automation and low-priced labor. Amazon warehouse employees are known to have terrible working conditions, pitiful wages, and have even been forced into homelessness after workplace injuries. Earlier this year, the company partnered with the Seattle nonprofit Mary's Place to build a permanent homeless shelter in its headquarters.

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