Jeff Bezos launches $2-billion fund to help homeless families, build preschools

Olive Hawkins
September 13, 2018

The head of the online retail giant, Amazon is launching a $2 billion fund to help homeless families and create a network of non-profit preschools in low-income communities. Picture taken on April 20, 2018.

"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", Mr Bezos said in a tweet. There will also be full scholarships for Montessori-inspired preschools in "underserved" communities, he said.

The announcement marks a deeper foray into philanthropy for Bezos, whose fortune has soared to more than $160-billion thanks to his stake in Amazon, according to Forbes.

Launched in 1994 as an online bookseller, Amazon has become a retail powerhouse operating globally, and has expanded into streaming video, music, cloud computing and other segments, and a year ago acquired the Whole Foods grocery chain. Earlier this year, the company partnered with the Seattle nonprofit Mary's Place to build a permanent homeless shelter in its headquarters.

The announcement, made through a statement from Bezos, comes after the executive reached out past year to ask for suggestions on approaches to philanthropy. Mary's Place motto is "no child sleeps outside".

"Why am I wearing pajamas to an Amazon board meeting?"

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"Another way we're raising awareness is through our special #GoGold boxes - you may receive one during September", he added.

The foundation stepped up to help Seattle when the city worked to launch its universal pre-K program in 2014.

Jeff Bezos, Amazon chief and the world's richest person, attended a board meeting in pyjamas on Wednesday and shared the new look on Instagram.

In 2016, Bezos was asked if he planned to pursue philanthropy like Gates has. In January, Bezos also personally gave $33 million USA in college scholarships for young immigrants living in the USA illegally.

Until now, Bezos has made only small initial steps into giving. This year, Gates also announced it was taking up systemic poverty in the U.S.

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