Amazon founder Jeff Bezos will donate $96.2 million to organizations helping homeless families, his charitable fund announced Wednesday.
The gifts will be made through the Bezos Day One Fund to 32 nonprofits across 21 states, with grants ranging from $750,000 to $5 million. Since Bezos founded the fund in 2018, as a $2 billion commitment with his then wife MacKenzie Scott, the Bezos Day One Fund has doled out nearly $100 million per year to organizations providing services to homeless families. In all, the fund has donated a total of $398 million so far.
“We are totally over the moon about this,” says Anne Miskey, CEO of Union Station Homeless Services in Pasadena, California. Miskey says the organization will receive $5 million in Amazon stock on Thursday, the largest private grant it has ever gotten. The money is specifically earmarked for family services and will be used over a five-year period to, among other things, hire more caseworkers and renovate the location used to house families experiencing homelessness. “We really want to make it more of a trauma-informed environment, to build in more privacy for individual families so they don’t have to sleep in a dorm-style area. We want to provide a safe, comfortable and dignified space to help them get into permanent housing,” Miskey says.
Bezos is the second-richest person in the world, worth an estimated $205.5 billion, according to Forbes. The donations announced Wednesday represent less than 1% of his total net worth, and the Bezos Day One Fund has not disclosed details about how exactly Bezos is funding it.
Bezos has sold nearly $27 billion worth of stock since Amazon went public in 1997—but he has so far declined to say if he’s funding the Bezos Day One Fund with cash gifts or with donations of his Amazon shares. Last week, Bezos gifted 16,283 shares of Amazon worth $58 million to nonprofits, according to Securities and Exchange Commission filings; an Amazon spokesperson declined to comment on where exactly those shares went. Earlier this year, Bezos pledged $200 million to the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum; when he returned from his brief flight in space in late July, he promised $100 million each to political commentator Van Jones and globe-trotting chef José Andrés.
Bezos hasn’t signed the Giving Pledge, a commitment to give away the majority of one’s fortune to charitable causes, but it appears he’s stepped up his charitable pledges in recent years. Separate from its focus on homeless families, the Bezos Day One Fund is building a network of controversial tuition-free Montessori-inspired preschools in underserved communities.
Additionally, last year Bezos pledged $10 billion over ten years to create the Bezos Earth Fund, which aims to address climate change. Last week, Bezos said in an interview at the Ignatius Forum in Washington, D.C., that he is spending more money on the Bezos Earth Fund than his commercial space company Blue Origin. We don’t know exactly how much money Bezos has put into Blue Origin, but in 2017 he said he was selling about $1 billion of Amazon stock a year to invest in the company.
According to Forbes, Bezos has given away at least $650 million worth of Amazon shares in his lifetime, which is less than 1% of his current net worth. Forbes only counts out-the-door donations and does not include pledged gifts that haven’t been given away yet.