Amazon’s Jeff Bezos launches US$2 billion fund to help the homeless

Amazon chief Jeff Bezos gives $2bn to help the homeless

The new philanthropic effort is called the Bezos Day One Fund, a nod to the executive's management philosophy that organisations must view every day with the fervour of a new start, or face stagnation and decline.

He said the cash will also provide funding to launch and operate "a network of high-quality, full-scholarship" pre-schools in "underserved communities".

"We'll use the same set of principles that have driven Amazon", Bezos wrote. Most important among those will be genuine, intense customer obsession. Since March 2016, Amazon customers have also been able to order items from the Mary's Place's wishlist on the site, such as diapers and socks.

Mr Bezos solicited ideas on Twitter previous year for ways to donate some of his wealth.

"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", he wrote at the time.

It's good that Bezos understands that there is a poverty problem, but by throwing his money at third-party organizations-and not focusing on fixing the systemic income gaps his company creates-he is only further proving the point of those who critique the tone-deafness of tech billionaires.

Until now, Bezos, 54, had only taken small steps into philanthropy.

The company's push to build a second home base highlights how massively Amazon has expanded during its 20-plus year history. 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. In August 2010, 40 of America's wealthiest individuals and couples joined together in a "Giving Pledge", which was a commitment spearheaded by Bill and Melinda Gates and Buffet for these wealthy individuals to give away more than half of their wealth.

Michael Bloomberg, the owner of Bloomberg LP, parent of Bloomberg News, also is a signatory.

Amazon has a history of supporting homeless programs in Seattle. Some activists and politicians have partly blamed the city's problems on Amazon. Amazon is designating 47,000 square feet of space at its new corporate office for a permanent Mary's Place shelter.

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