Amazon’s Jeff Bezos launches a $2 billion ‘Day One Fund’ to help homeless families and preschool education
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos just announced the launch of his long-awaited philanthropic initiative, a new $2 billion fund for philanthropic efforts called “The Day One Fund” that will focus on efforts to help homeless families and improve preschool education, the Amazon CEO announced Thursday.
The fund is split into two main areas: the “Day 1 Families Fund” will give money to existing non-profits that help homeless families, while the “Day 1 Academies Fund” will create a new network of top-tier preschools in low-income communities. Bezos said the academies fund will create an organization to directly operate the new schools. Also, homeless initiative builds on Amazon’s current support of Mary’s Place, a Seattle homeless shelter nonprofit.
“MacKenzie and I share a belief in the potential for hard work from anyone to serve others,” Bezos said in a tweet Thursday, referring to his wife MacKenzie Bezos. The fund will launch with a $2 billion commitment, split between the Day 1 Families Fund — helping homeless families — and the Day 1 Academies Fund — creating a “network of new, non-profit, tier-one preschools in low-income communities,” Bezos said.
— Jeff Bezos (@JeffBezos) September 13, 2018
The announcement is a response to the request for a philanthropic ideas Bezos made on Twitter back in June 2017. “I’m thinking I want much of my philanthropic activity to be helping people in the here and now — short term — at the intersection of urgent need and lasting impact,” Bezos wrote. Below is his original request asking for people to submit their ideas.
Request for ideas… pic.twitter.com/j6D68mhseL
— Jeff Bezos (@JeffBezos) June 15, 2017
Below is the full text of Bezos statement.
Day One Fund
I talk often about the importance of maintaining a Day 1 mentality. It’s always Day 1, and I work hard to apply that mindset to everything I do. It was a Day 1 outlook that made me reach out to ask for suggestions on approaches to philanthropy last year. By so many important measures the world keeps getting better, and it’s one of the fantastic aspects of human nature that we humans never stop looking for (and finding!) ways to improve things. Our lives are better than our great grandparents’ lives, and their lives were better than their great grandparents’ lives before them. If our own great grandchildren don’t have lives better than ours, something has gone very wrong. Where’s the good in the world, and how can we spread it? Where are the opportunities to make things better? These are the exciting questions.
MacKenzie and I share a belief in the potential for hard work from anyone to serve others. We all have that capacity. 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. In addition to Amazon, my areas of focus so far have included investment in the future of our planet and civilization through the development of foundational space infrastructure, support of American democracy through stewardship of the Washington Post, and financial contributions to the dedicated and innovative champions of a variety of causes, from cancer research, to marriage equality, to college scholarships for immigrant students, to decreasing political polarization through cross-partisan support of principled, next-generation military vets running for Congress.
We’re excited today to announce the Bezos Day One Fund. It will begin with a commitment of $2 billion and focus on two areas: funding existing non-profits that help homeless families, and creating a network of new, non-profit, tier-one preschools in low-income communities.
The Day 1 Families Fund will issue annual leadership awards to organizations and civic groups doing compassionate, needle-moving work to provide shelter and hunger support to address the immediate needs of young families. The vision statement comes from the inspiring Mary’s Place in Seattle: no child sleeps outside.
The Day 1 Academies Fund will launch and operate a network of high-quality, full-scholarship, Montessori-inspired preschools in underserved communities. We will build an organization to directly operate these preschools. I’m excited about that because it will give us the opportunity to learn, invent, and improve. We’ll use the same set of principles that have driven Amazon. Most important among those will be genuine, intense customer obsession. The child will be the customer. “Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lightning of a fire.” And lighting that fire early is a giant leg up for any child.
I want to close by thanking everyone who sent me suggestions, and for the inspiring examples of innovation I see every day, large and small. It fills me with gratitude and optimism to be part of a species so bent on self-improvement.
It remains Day 1!
As of September 2018, Jeff Bezos is currently the richest person in the world with an estimated net worth of $112 billion.