Chloe Melas, CNN
Jeff Bezos remains committed to giving away the majority of his $123 million fortune.
The Amazon founder announced on Instagram earlier this week that he recently awarded 40 grants as part of the Bezos Day 1 Family Fund initiative, which he launched in 2018. This donation is part of a total $2 billion commitment to combat homelessness.
The most recent charitable donation comes a week after Bezos said in an exclusive interview with CNN that he plans to give away the majority of his $124 billion net worth during his lifetime. He said he would dedicate most of his fortune to fighting climate change and supporting those who can unite humanity in the face of deep social and political divisions.
This is the first time a billionaire has announced that he will donate most of his money. Critics have previously criticized Bezos for not signing the Giving Pledge, a promise under which hundreds of the world’s wealthiest people have signed to donate most of their wealth to charity.
But Bezos told CNN in an interview that giving away one’s wealth beyond the giving pledge comes down to “figuring out how to do it in a leveraged way.”
“It’s not easy. Building Amazon wasn’t easy. It took a lot of hard work, very smart team members, and hard working team members. And I think Lauren is looking for the same thing – I found charity, philanthropy very similar,” he said.
“There are a lot of ways you can think of doing things that are inefficient,” he added. “So you have to think carefully and have great people on your team.”
Last week, Bezos and partner Lauren Sánchez made headlines honoring Dolly Parton with the Courage & Civility Award, which comes with a $100 million grant that she can use for philanthropy. Similar grants went to chef Jose Andrés and climate advocate and CNN contributor Van Jones, who spent some of the money making meals for Ukrainians.
Following CNN’s interview with Bezos, his ex-wife Mackenzie Scott announced an additional $2 billion in donations to various causes. Scott has donated nearly $4 billion to 465 organizations in less than a year.
Organizations that Bezos is funding in this grant round include The Salvation Army, Denver Metro Area, Mother Nation: Honoring the Beauty and Strength of Native Families in Seattle, and the Homeless Alliance in Oklahoma City.
According to the organization’s press release, the Bezos Family Fund has awarded more than $520 million in grants to 167 organizations across the United States.
“These funds will continue our compassionate needle shift work to help move families from unsheltered homelessness and shelters to permanent homes that provide the services they need to achieve stability,” the statement said.
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