In brief: To say that Jeff Bezos has a lot of money is an understatement. The Amazon founder’s net worth is estimated to be more than $163 billion, making him both the richest person on the planet and the richest in modern times. Now, he has launched a philanthropic effort that will see a $2 billion fund used to help homeless families and build pre-schools in low-income communities.
Despite his ‘world’s wealthiest man’ title, Bezos isn’t known for his philanthropy in the same way as Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg, often preferring to focus on long-term initiatives. But in June last year, he decided to use his money to help those who needed it sooner, turning to Twitter for donation suggestions.
In January, Bezos donated $33 million for college scholarships to "Dreamers"— childhood undocumented immigrants allowed to stay in the country under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
Now, Bezos has announced the Bezos Day One Fund, which he and his wife MacKenzie will use to fund existing organizations that help homeless families and to create a "network of new, non-profit, tier-one preschools in low-income communities."
“We’ll use the same set of principles that have driven Amazon. Most important among those will be genuine, intense customer obsession,” he tweeted. “The child will be the customer.”
Bezos said the Day 1 Family Fund would issue grants every year to groups and organizations that provide shelter and food to young families in need. The Day 1 Academies Fund, meanwhile, "will launch and operate a network of high-quality, full-scholarship, Montessori-inspired preschools in underserved communities. We will build an organization to directly operate these preschools."
Bezos has faced criticism for his absence from the Giving Pledge, a commitment by the world’s wealthiest individuals and families to donate more than half their fortunes to good causes. And while his new charitable endeavor should be applauded, many have noted that a number of his Amazon workers remain underpaid and endure difficult working conditions.