As Jeff Bezos, the founder and CEO of Amazon and the richest person in the world, went to Twitter last year to gather ideas on how his money could have the greatest immediate benefit to people's lives, suggestions from around the world poured in ,
Proposals ranged from the construction of affordable housing and food banks to the funding of universal health care in the US to the payment of postnatal reconstructive surgery for women in Africa. Mr. Bezos and his wife MacKenzie combed through the answers.
Now, Mr. Bezos has set his philanthropic strategy and invested $ 2 billion of his personal assets in a new fund focused on early education and families. The data-driven chief executive is focusing his financial firepower on solving problems in an early life to provide a safe start for vulnerable children.
Mr. Bezos said in one tweet on Thursday, the Bezos Day One Fund will focus on two key issues: "Fund existing charities that help homeless families, and create a network of new, first-level, non-profit pre-schools in low-income communities."
Mr. Bezos recently surpassed Microsoft founder Bill Gates to claim the title of the richest man in the world with an estimated net worth of $ 164 billion, mainly due to his 16 percent stake in Amazon, Forbes said. With the personal fortunes he has amassed as a result of Amazon's rise, he has already invested in non-Amazon sectors including space technology through his involvement with Blue Origin and the media through the purchase of the Washington Post.
With Amazon's share price more than doubling in the past 12 months to make it the $ 1 trillion second-listed US company, the company was scolded for its wages and working conditions for its lower-paid employees.
The company and its founder have in the past also criticized a more limited amount of charitable donations compared to other companies and wealthy individuals. Mr. Bezos has not signed Bill Gates and Warren Buffett's promise to give at least half of their assets during their lifetime.
Amazon has recently taken steps to consolidate and publicize its charitable efforts. It has partnered with a nonprofit association in Seattle to build a homeless shelter at its headquarters, supports literacy and digital literacy programs, and works with agencies such as the Red Cross for Disaster Relief.
Mr Bezos' announcement on Thursday reflects a major step in his philanthropic activities. His biggest donation before the Day One Fund was $ 33 million to a non-profit organization that grants scholarships to young immigrants known as "dreamers."
He recently made his first major political contribution by donating $ 10 million to a political action group that supports military veterans running for Congress.
When Mr. Bezos caught up with ideas for using his money, he contrasted his focus on immediate needs with the long-term approach that defined Amazon and Blue Origin.
"I think I want a lot of my philanthropic activities to help people in the here and now – in the short term – at the interface of urgent needs and sustainable impact," he wrote in June 2017.
Mr. Bezos's fund is divided into two parts. The Day 1 Families Fund will hand over Leadership Awards to groups working to accommodate and feed young families, while the Day 1 Academies Fund will launch and lead high-quality Montessori inspired nurseries in underserved communities.
"I often talk about how important it is to maintain a day-1 mentality," Mr. Bezos said Thursday, pointing to a mantra so central at Amazon that he named the company's headquarters in Seattle afterwards.
"It's always day one, and I work hard to apply that mindset to everything I do. It was a day-1 outlook that prompted me to ask for proposals for philanthropy last year."