Amazon's Bezos Launches $2 Billion Charity Targeting Homelessness, Early Education


Amazon founder and leader Jeff Bezos on Thursday unveiled his new charitable foundation that will lend a hand to combat homelessness and boost education efforts.

Bezos is kicking off his latest initiative by committing $2 billion to the Day One Fund, which will include two charities. The Day 1 Families Fund will give money to existing nonprofits that help homeless families, and the Day 1 Academies Fund will go toward building a network of top-tier preschools in low-income communities.

The Amazon CEO is the richest person in the world, now worth $164 billion, which is $66 billion more than the second-richest person, Microsoft founder Bill Gates, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

[Related: Amazon Joins Apple With Trillion-Dollar Market Value]

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Bezos' net worth shot up recently as Amazon's market valuation surged, thanks to its strong e-commerce business and its dominant cloud unit, Amazon Web Services. Earlier this month, Amazon's stock price rose to $2,050.27, which was enough to push the company past a valuation of $1 trillion.

In addition to Bezos' own Day One Fund, Amazon recently boosted its philanthropic efforts in its Seattle hometown. The company is working with Mary's Place by providing a permanent homeless shelter in one of Amazon's buildings. The Day 1 Families Fund, Bezos said, will help build on the work that Amazon has been doing with the organization.

Amazon also offers AmazonSmile, an option that allows buyers to select a cause in which automatically donates a portion of their retail purchase.

"The Day 1 Families Fund will issue annual leadership awards to organizations and civic groups doing compassionate, needle-moving work to provide shelter and hunger support to address the immediate needs of young families," Bezos took to Twitter to say Thursday. "The Day 1 Academies Fund 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," he added.

The move by Bezos comes just months after Amazon helped defeat a so-called “head tax” in its hometown of Seattle that would helped fund initiatives focused on dealing with homelessness in the city.

Bezos in January made headlines when he gave $33 million in toward college scholarships to "Dreamers," undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children.

The Bezos Family Foundation, which is run by Bezos' parents, donates to medical research and education causes.

Bezos and his wife, MacKenzie, in 2011 donated $15 million to their alma mater, Princeton University, to create the Bezos Center for Neural Circuit Dynamics, which develops new techniques to study brain function.

Bezos' colleagues in the tech space have been well-known for their own philanthropic efforts. Gates established the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in 2000, which donates funds equal to at least 5 percent of its assets each year. The foundation is said to hold about $50 billion in assets.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife started the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative in 2016 that will donate more than $3 billion over the next decade in the hopes of curing all diseases by the end of the century.