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Amazon's Jeff Bezos Commits $2 Billion to Tackle Homelessness and Early Education

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Why Global Citizens Should Care
Jeff Bezos’s fund aims to address homelessness and access to education in underserved areas in the US, helping to alleviate poverty. You can join us in the fight to end global poverty by taking action here.

Jeff Bezos, recently reported to be the “richest man in modern history,” has launched a $2 billion fund to help families experiencing homelessness and support preschools in low-income communities.

The Amazon CEO announced the “Bezos Day One Fund” on Thursday in a statement posted to his Twitter.

Broken into two funding streams — the Day One Families Fund and the Day One Academies Fund — Bezos will provide funding to existing nonprofits that serve homeless people and will establish a “network of new, nonprofit, tier-one preschools” in underserved communities respectively, according to his statement.

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The Day One Families Fund will support organizations in the form of annual leadership awards, while the Day One Academies Fund will be used to build an organization that will directly operate preschools where “the child will be the customer,” Bezos wrote. To do this, the tech entrepreneur plans to apply Amazon’s famous “customer obsession” approach to schools supported by “Day One.”

The fund’s name “Day One” comes from the ethos by which Bezos lives and runs his company. 

“It's always Day One, and I work hard to apply that mindset to everything I do,” Bezos wrote. “It was a Day One 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.”

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Bezos’ critics have long called on him to put some of his fortune — estimated to be at least $150 billion — into philanthropic initiatives. And while some are praising his announcement, others say it doesn’t go far enough.

While $2 billion is an astoundingly massive sum of money, it accounts for a little over 1% of Bezos’ total estimated net worth.

Others have even criticized the move as hypocritical, pointing to the low wages and poor working conditions that many Amazon warehouse employees have reportedly experiencedas a contributor to poverty and homelessness.

Despite his new fund and the $33 million in college scholarships for undocumented immigrant youths in the US that he gave away in January, Bezos notably has not signed the Giving Pledge — an initiative started by Bill Gates encouraging the world's wealthiest people and families to commit the majority of their wealth to improving the world — which many of his peers have signed.