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Amazon’s Jeff Bezos unveils $2 bn fund for homeless, others



Amazon founder Jeff Bezos , the richest person on the planet , said Thursday he was creating a philanthropic fund to help homeless families and launch preschools in low – income communities , committing an initial $ 2 billion to the cause .Bezos made the announcement on Twitter a year after asking for ideas on how he could use his personal fortune — now estimated at more than $ 160 billion — for charitable efforts .

The “ Bezos Day One Fund ” created by Bezos and his wife MacKenzie will focus on two areas : helping “ existing nonprofits that help homeless families ” and funding “ a network of new , nonprofit , tier -one preschools in low- income communities , ” he wrote .

For the homeless , grants will be given to organizations “ doing compassionate , needle – moving work to provide shelter and hunger support to address the needs of young families , ” Bezos said .

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

“ We will build an organization to directly operate these schools . ”

Bezos said the schools would “ use the same set of principles that have driven Amazon ” and that “ the child will be the customer . ”

– Early steps on charity –

The $ 2 billion initiative , while significant, is far less than the philanthropic efforts of other billionaires including Microsoft ’ s Bill Gates , who has donated tens of billions to his foundation , and Facebook’ s Mark Zuckerberg , who has pledged to donate 99 percent of his shares in the social media giant to an organization focused on public good .

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It also falls short of the “ giving pledge ” initiative launched by Gates and billionaire investor Warren Buffett , who have encouraged wealthy individuals to pledge half their fortunes for philanthropy .

Bezos ’ s fortune comes mainly from his stake in Amazon , the diversified online firm which briefly hit $ 1 trillion in market value this month and is the second most valuable company after Apple .

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

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 .

Last year , he donated $ 33 million to fund scholarship for “ dreamers , ” the name given to undocumented children of immigrants who face legal obstacles in attending college or university .

He has also made donations for cancer research and to Princeton University , his alma mater .

– Amazon ’s tentacles –

Bezos ’ s personal wealth has soared with the value of Amazon , whose stock price has doubled over the past year with its expansion into new sectors and geographies .

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 last year acquired the Whole Foods grocery chain . Amazon ’ s digital assistant Alexa has helped drive its hardware sales and is used on smart devices ranging from cars to refrigerators .

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According to the research firm eMarketer , Amazon ’ s e – commerce revenue will grow more than 28 percent this year to reach $ 394 billion , and will account for 49 percent of US online retail sales and nearly five percent of all retail spending .

Some analysts have suggested Amazon could face antitrust scrutiny over its growing power in the economy , and President Donald Trump has accused the company of taking advantage of the Postal Service , despite studies suggesting the internet giant ’ s deal has been beneficial to the US government postal operator .

Amazon has faced criticism for paying little in taxes , which stems in part from its historically low profits .

It has also won tax breaks in many areas for its warehouses and distribution centres , and has been running a highly publicized effort for a second North American headquarters , prompting proposals for tax reductions and incentives .

Amazon has selected 20 cities as “ finalists ” for the headquarters and has indicated it would make a decision by year – end .


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