The wealthiest man ever is spending a small portion of his vast personal fortune to fund preschools and fight homelessness.
Jeff Bezos owns Amazon.com. Because of this, he’s the richest man to have ever lived with an estimated net worth of $161 billion. Estimates vary because when you have that much money it’s hard to break it down into a specific number. It might be $150 billion. It might be $170 billion. But it’s around that much.
To put that into perspective, the operating budget for the Environmental Protection Agency for 2017 was only about $8 billion. This guy could fund an entire US department for 20 years before he went broke.
But being the richest man to have ever lived was causing Bezos a bit of an image problem. He had so much money he literally didn’t know what to do with it, so he did nothing. Which is a problem when you could cure homelessness on your own with a wave of your hand. He even went to Twitter last year to get an impromptu public poll on just what he should do with his vast wealth.
One idea was to make a rocket to go to Mars. That didn’t go over so well.
A year later, Bezos has announced his decision. Last Thursday, Bezos revealed on Twitter that he would start a philanthropic fund called The Day 1 Fund so-called for his “Day 1” mentality on getting stuff done.
The Day 1 Fund will actually be broken into two funds. The first, called Day 1 Families, will deal with helping homeless by issuing “annual leadership awards to civic groups doing compassionate, needle-moving work to provide shelter and hunger support to address the immediate needs of young families."
The second is called Day 1 Academies, and will fund “high-quality, full-scholarship, Montessori-style preschools” in low-income areas.
There are quite a few details still missing, such as just what areas will get the benefit of these funds. Quite a few people theorize it will be in Seattle, where Amazon recently helped defeat a public ordinance that would tax corporations to help fund a homelessness initiative.
Criticisms aside, at least Bezos is finally doing something with his many billions, even if $2 billion is only a little over 1% of his net worth.