Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos launches a $2 billion philanthropic fund

Elizabeth Houston
September 14, 2018

- Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos was in the District Thursday night as he was the featured guest at the Economic Club of Washington D.C.'s Milestone Celebration Dinner at the Washington Hilton. "You're really improving their odds". "These are exciting questions". Apple reached that milestone a few weeks earlier. In January, Bezos also personally gave $33 million United States in college scholarships for young immigrants living in the USA illegally.

Take the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) last week introduced the Stop Bad Employers by Zeroing Out Subsidies (BEZOS) Act, which would require Amazon to pay a 100 percent tax on the federal benefits collected by their lower-income employees. "That is what a rigged economy looks like". There will also be full scholarships for Montessori-inspired preschools in "underserved" communities, he said.

Among the world's top tech CEOs, Bezos is not known for his philanthropy. Almost 200 people from 22 countries have signed on, including Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, Tesla's Elon Musk, Carl Icahn, T. Boone Pickens and Ted Turner.

Mr Bezos asked on Twitter last year for suggestions on how he might use his personal fortune, which this year has soared due to Amazon's surging share price and USA tax cuts. Zuckerberg's shares in the social network are now valued at about US$61 billion.

Now, with the announcement of the Bezos Day One Fund, we know what charitable areas the Bezoses will focus on.

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. "I said, 'You're welcome, ' and he immediately turned to me and said, 'Thank you'". But I will say this - it is a mistake for any elected official, in my opinion, I don't think this is a very out-there opinion, to attack media and journalists.

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Despite the criticism, Bezos told interviewer David Rubenstein, founder of private equity giant Carlyle Group, that "The media is going to be fine". "What the president should say is, 'This is right, I'm glad I'm being scrutinised.' That would be so secure and confident".

"Well I do defend the Post", Bezos said.

"It's risky to demonise the media", Mr Bezos said. It's unsafe to call the media low-lifes. "It's risky to say that they're the enemy of the people".

Mr Bezos, who operates the Blue Origin space rocket project and who owns the Washington Post newspaper, has given donations to a scheme to help the children of immigrants, cancer research, and Princeton University. "But it turns out in life that your most important decisions are always made with instinct, intuition, taste, heart".

"We're going to push through this", he added. It seems that Bezos is attempting to quell that chatter as he announced the launch of the Day One Fund in order to start preschools and assist homeless families.

"There's been a movement away from band-aid solutions", said Ray Madoff, director of the Boston College Law School Forum on Philanthropy and the Public Good.

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