Are you rich?
Might I suggest that when you’re wealthy or a celebrity, you shouldn’t use that as a golden ticket to commit sexual assault, but rather, you should find more altruistic pursuits?
With that in mind, I’m going to express my admiration for Amazon CEO, Jeff Bezos, once more.
And yes, I know he’s a pretty liberal guy, in general.
What if I told you that one’s political leanings do not negate their worth as a person, or the good they may do for their community?
The world’s richest man, with personal wealth of $164 billion, announced today that he and his wife will be pledging $2 billion to begin what they’re calling the Day 1 Fund, aimed at helping homeless families and setting up preschools in low income communities.
The Bezos Day One Fund will focus on two initiatives, the billionaire announced in an online post Thursday. The first will fund existing nonprofits and issue annual awards to organizations doing “compassionate, needle-moving work” to shelter and support the immediate needs of young families. The second will operate a network of high-quality, full-scholarship Montessori-inspired preschools. The fund’s vision statement comes from nonprofit Mary’s Place in Seattle: no child sleeps outside.
“We’ll use the same set of principles that have driven Amazon,” wrote Bezos. “Most important among those will be genuine, intense customer obsession. The child will be the customer.”
And I really love Amazon.
I guess he’s looking to make a real impact.
Last year, Bezos sought suggestions from social media, as to how he could contribute in a way that would help people “right now.”
Of course, you know there were more than a few helpful suggestions.
No, the suggestion to back a leather fetish museum in Chicago was not helpful.
Until now, Bezos, 54, had only taken small steps into philanthropy. The Bezos Family Foundation, best known for supporting children’s education, has been largely funded by his parents from Amazon holdings they acquired as early investors in their son’s enterprise. Outside of that, Bezos and his family’s known donations have included gifts to Princeton University and Seattle’s Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, according to the Chronicle of Philanthropy.
It’s not surprising that the world’s richest person “is finally getting serious about philanthropy,” said David Callahan, founder of website Inside Philanthropy. “With big fortunes like that, the only thing you can really do is give it away — unless you want the government to take half of it through estate tax.”
The staggering fortunes of the likes of Bezos, Gates and Facebook Inc. CEO Mark Zuckerberg have created a second Gilded Age in the U.S. and “a new generation of megagivers,” Callahan said. “It was only a matter of time before Bezos would join this new era of big philanthropy.”
So why preschool?
It could be based in research.
Research shows 90 percent of a child’s brain development occurs before the age of 5, yet most charitable gifts pegged for education target older children, according to Makdessian.
I’m thinking of a scene between Steve Martin and Rick Moranis, from the 1989 movie, “Parenthood.” The ambitious Moranis explains to his brother-in-law the potential for learning that exists with toddlers, and bemoans the fact that rather than developing that gift, adults treat them like “adorable little morons.”
I mean, you let kids be kids, but an investment in their intellectual development early isn’t the worst of ideas.
The announcement of this fund puts Bezos in the “You Can’t Take It With You” club, that includes other wealthy men, such as Microsoft boss, Bill Gates, who stepped down as company CEO in 2000, then later began the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
The foundation has $51 billion, as of the end of 2017. The goal is to have that fortune spent towards forwarding their philanthropic goals within 20 years of their deaths.
Stocks for Facebook total around $61 billion. Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan have said they plan to give away 99 percent of their stock.
Some 184 of the world’s wealthiest individuals and families, including Tesla Inc.’s Elon Musk and the co-founders of Airbnb Inc., have joined The Giving Pledge, a commitment started by Gates and Buffett to give away at least half their wealth. Michael Bloomberg, the owner of Bloomberg LP, parent of Bloomberg News, also is a signatory.
Is Bezos going to give away half his wealth? I mean, if he gives away $82 billion, he’d still have almost as much as Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk, put together.
While Bezos was thinking about where best to put his own money, Amazon stepped up its corporate giving, focused on growing inequality in its hometown of Seattle. Some activists and politicians have partly blamed the city’s problems on Amazon.
In 2016, Amazon renovated a vacant hotel on land designated for its new headquarters so it could be used temporarily by the nonprofit Mary’s Place to shelter 200 homeless families. Amazon is designating 47,000 square feet of space at its new corporate office for a permanent Mary’s Place shelter.
I know people working for Amazon. They’re getting paid a livable wage.
I know Bezos and Amazon have been targeted by President Trump and his loyalists, but there’s no denying that these are good deeds.
Capitalism has worked for him, and he’s turning it back to the community.
That’s how you do it.
Kudos, Mr. Bezos. Well done.
— Jeff Bezos (@JeffBezos) September 13, 2018