Amazon's Jeff Bezos to start $2B U.S. charitable fund

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and his wife, MacKenzie, announced a $2 billion fund Thursday to help homeless families and create preschools. Picture taken on April 20, 2018.

The fund will also seek to launch and operate "a network of high-quality, full-scholarship, Montessori-inspired preschools in underserved communities", he wrote.

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.

Bezos, who founded Amazon as an online book store more than two decades ago, has seen his wealth surge along with Amazon's stock.

Earlier this year Amazon played a pivotal role in diminishing and ultimately defeating a Seattle business tax to fund homelessness services and affordable housing. Its vision statement comes from Mary's Place in Seattle: no child sleeps outside.

Jeff Bezos, the world's richest person, has previously been largely invisible in the world of philanthropy, in stark contrast to peers like Bill Gates and Warren Buffett who have given away tens of billions of dollars.

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But FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb says the agency did not predict an "epidemic of addiction" among youth, mainly driven by flavored products.

Last year Bezos solicited advice from the public via Twitter, asking how he could best use his wealth to help people "right now".

In addition to millions in cash, both non-profits have been granted prime real estate in Amazon building spaces to do their work.

"We will build an organisation to directly operate these schools".

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

It's good that Bezos understands that there is a poverty problem, but by throwing his money at third-party organizations-and not focusing on fixing the systemic income gaps his company creates-he is only further proving the point of those who critique the tone-deafness of tech billionaires. The Seattle-based Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation as the world's largest private nonprofit foundation has an endowment worth over $40 billion U.S. and has long supported homelessness services for families in the city.

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