Amazon's Jeff Bezos commits $2 billion to help homeless, pre-schools

Greg Lawrence
September 14, 2018

The wealth that Bezos has amassed hasn't come without controversy, as many critics point to poor working conditions at his facilities while others say he doesn't do enough for the public good.

Jeff Bezos, Amazon.com Inc's (AMZN.O) founder and the world's richest person, said on Thursday he will commit $2 billion to helping homeless families and starting pre-schools for low-income communities.

Within this, the Day 1 Families Fund will support existing non-profits that offer shelter and food to young homeless families.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos seems to be Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant's arch-nemesis, so it only makes sense that she would have something to say about the entrepreneur's $2 billion charitable fund toward homelessness and education.

Despite his fortune, Bezos has not been a major philanthropic donor and Amazon has been criticized in its home of Seattle, Washington, for doing little to address problems of the growing homeless population. And Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., has held Bezos up as an example of a leader of a company that does not pay its workers enough. Since March 2016, Amazon customers have also been able to order items from the Mary's Place's wishlist on the site, such as diapers and socks. Most important among those will be genuine, intense customer obsession.

The Day 1 Families Fund will start an organisation to operate a new network of full-scholarship preschools for low-income communities.

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More than a year ago, Bezos posted to Twitter a request for suggestions on philanthropic initiatives created to make a difference in the short term. He wrote that he wanted to help "people in the here and now - short term - at the intersection of urgent need and lasting impact".

He also operates the private space exploration firm Blue Origin and owns The Washington Post newspaper.

Trump has described The Washington Post as Amazon's "chief lobbyist".

When asked about it, Bezos called it a "mistake" for any elected official to "attack media and journalists". "It's okay. It's part of the process", Bezos said. However, he said it is risky for politicians to "demonize the media".

Jeff Bezos, the founder and CEO of Amazon, just made a long-awaited announcement about what philanthropic causes would benefit from his enormous fortune - which has doubled in one year and is now estimated at more than $160 billion.

The private non-profit foundation in its 2016 tax filing reported almost $46 million United States in assets, and giving away $30 million USA in grants support its missions in early education, K-12 schools reform and youth leadership development and scholarships.

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