The world's wealthiest man will put the funds into an organisation called Bezos Day One Fund, which will help fight homelessness and establish pre-schools for low-income communities.
Bezos currently has a net worth of over US$163 billion and has been criticised for not sharing his incredible wealth more generously.
The company he co-founded, Amazon, soared to a market cap of US$970.54B for the second quarter of 2018, overtaking Alphabet (parent company of Google) and Microsoft to become the second largest public company by market cap in the world behind Apple.
It briefly reached the trillion dollar market cap landmark earlier this year.
Jeff Bezos, the world’s richest person, is launching a $2 billion fund to help homeless families and create a network of non-profit preschools in low-income communities https://t.co/3WFdJFUbwI
— Bloomberg (@business) September 13, 2018
The new charity aims to disrupt and innovate
In a statement to announce the new charity, Bezos said that he and wife MacKenzie “share a belief in the potential for hard from anyone to serve others.”
“We all have that capacity,” Bezos continued. “Business innovators who invent products that empower, authors who write books that inspire, government officials who serve their communities, teachers, doctors, carpenters, entertainers who make us laugh and cry, parents who raise children who go on to live lives of courage and compassion, and many more.”
Bezos Day One Fund will have two separate arms, the Families Fund and the Academies Fund. The former will issue leadership awards to organisations working to provide shelter and food for young families. It is inspired by the credo of Mary’s Place in Seattle, the city where Amazon is headquartered: ‘No child sleeps outside’.
The Academies Fund will establish and operate a network of full scholarship pre-schools in socioeconomically disadvantaged areas. Bezos wrote that he is seeking to bring the same disruptive energy which has seen Amazon dominate the e-commerce market to his new philanthropic venture.
“I’m excited about that because it will give us the opportunity to learn, invent and improve,” Bezos wrote. “We’ll use the same set of principles that have driven Amazon. Most important among these will be genuine, intense customer obsession.”
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and his wife MacKenzie Bezos pledged $2 billion for a new fund to help homeless families and start preschools, called Day 1 Fund. The money is by far the largest philanthropic donation by Bezos, who is the world's richest person. https://t.co/bwA4OYawAw
— The New York Times (@nytimes) September 13, 2018
Bezos has faced criticism for not doing more philanthropic work or raising wages at Amazon
Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders has been an outspoken critic of working conditions in Amazon facilities as well as the fact many of the company’s staff receive welfare benefits due to their low wage.
Bernie Sanders recently tweeted a simple exercise to demonstrate wealth disparities between Bezos and his workforce. Sanders wrote: “Count to ten. In those ten seconds, Jeff Bezos, the owner and founder of Amazon, just made more money than the median employee of Amazon makes in an entire year.”
The company has also been slammed by trade unions for having a disproportionate number of ambulance callouts to its UK warehouses.
Last year, Bezos crowdsourced suggestions on how he could use his fortune for philanthropic ends and seems to have settled on the ‘Bezos Day One Fund’, which is by far his biggest and most ambitious charitable venture.
He has previously given financial support to cancer research and scholarships for immigrants but has poured much of his wealth into Blue Origin, his spaceflight services company.