Benioffs, Gates Team Up For $100 Million Donation To Fight Premature Births


Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff and his wife Lynne have teamed up with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to fight back against worldwide deaths from premature births with the Thursday launch of a $100 million global initiative.

The 10-year initiative will work through the UCSF Benioff Children's Hospitals, which will lead an effort to reduce premature infant deaths worldwide and protect the health of the infants and their mothers after birth. The efforts will include everything from examining the social issues that prevent some families and communities from following good birth practices to investing in medical research.

It will be completely funded jointly by the partnership of the Benioffs and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The Benioffs already have donated $200 million to the hospital and its affiliates, $100 million in 2010, and an additional $100 million in 2014.

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"We are thrilled to be partnering with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which is as interested in addressing the global issue of preterm birth as we are," said Lynne and Marc Benioff in a prepared statement. "The incredible doctors and scientists at UCSF Benioff Children's Hospitals will bring their expertise to help save mothers and children around the globe."

Premature births are the leading cause of death worldwide for newborns and the second-leading cause of death globally for children younger than 5 years old. Every year, 15 million babies are born premature, with more than 1 million dying within 28 days after birth.

"Premature births are one of the leading causes of newborn mortality, in both rich and poor countries. We don't know enough about why babies are born preterm, but we know that when they are, it can lead to serious health consequences," said Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, in a prepared statement. "The Benioffs' leadership will help to advance progress and enable children all over the world to realize their full potential."

The UCSF Benioff Children's Hospitals will partner in the effort with major nonprofit organizations, such as the March of Dimes, the Global Alliance to Prevent Prematurity and Stillbirths (GAPPS), the National Institutes of Health and the World Health Organization.

Jeff Davis, CEO of Perficient, No. 79 on CRN's SP500 list and a Fast Growth 150 company, said that as a partner of both Salesforce.com and Microsoft, it is especially "inspiring" to see them donating to such an important cause.

"It's inspiring to see these visionaries teaming so substantially to commit to making the world a better place," Davis said. "It's important all enterprises, and individuals, consider and understand the role each of us can play in improving the future, regardless of the scale of our capabilities. Every action matters."

PUBLISHED APRIL 25, 2014