Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, has long kept quiet about his philanthropy. In a tweet and an address in Washington, D. C., Bezos has finally broken the silence. His philanthropy plan is of donating $2 billion for preschool programs for people of low income as well as for providing shelter and food for the homeless. An executive team will be hired to run the preschools as an independent nonprofit group. For the shelters and food, the money will go towards existing organizations.
Among the 1,000 people that attended the Economic Club of Washington event was Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser as well as Governor Larry Hogan. Both of them are working to make the second Amazon headquarter part of their own hometown. If this happens, 50,000 jobs will open in the next 20 years. While Bezos made no promises, he mentioned the announcing of a second location this year.
The interview at the Economic Club was focused mostly on the philanthropic push with his wife MacKenzie. The preschools that will open will operate like Montessori preschools and make sure that children from low-income families are up to date with their education.
This donation will place one of the world’s richest people amongst the mega-donors. Meanwhile, his company is dealing with increasing scrutiny over its growing influence on the economy and financial power.
Although his personal fortune is around $164 billion, Bezos has not been largely involved with philanthropy until this time. This silence has made him stand out to large company founders like Bill Gates and Warren Buffet.
Before taking this step, Bezos asked the public through Twitter about the best way that he could use his fortune to help the world in the now. This is how the decision on funding education and support for homeless people came about.
The Bezos Family Foundation has already been supporting children’s education until now. Their donations have also been pouring into Princeton University and Seattle’s Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. In the future, Bezos plans to give out money to nonprofit organizations as well as the Blue Origin, a company that works on creating reusable rockets that can make space travel more cost-effective.
Bezos has faced ongoing criticism from U.S. President Donald Trump and U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders for income inequality. Bezos has refused to discuss the conversations he has had with Donald Trump and does not feel that he needs to defend the actions of his company.