Amazon's Jeff Bezos To Spend Nearly $100 Million To Address Homelessness

The world’s richest man, Jeff Bezos, is giving nearly $100 million to address homelessness in America in what amounts to his biggest publicly-announced charitable donation yet

Photo: twitter.com/jeffbezos

On Tuesday, the Amazon founder ands CEO outlined his plans to give $97.5 million to two dozen nonprofits around the country that are providing services to the homeless. This is the first round of giving that Bezos will conduct as part of his Day One Fund, announced in September, in which he pledged $2 billion to help homeless families and create Montessori-inspired preschools. (Bezos himself attended a Montessori school.)

The nonprofits that will receive funding are located in places like San Francisco, Washington, D.C., and Omaha, where they operate emergency and short-term shelters and also help families move into permanent housing. Each organization will receive $2.5 million or $5 million from the Day 1 Families Fund. The money will be used to help the organizations “expand the scope and impact of their efforts,” according to a statement.

“Congrats to the recipients—we know you’ll spend the money wisely and with heart,” wrote Bezos in a tweet.

One recipient is the Urban Resource Institute in New York, which plans to use its $5 million grant to bolster the job training and placement it can provide to homeless families, with a focus on jobs that pay more than minimum wage or are increasingly in demand, in areas like coding. The non-profit operates 12 domestic violence shelters and six homeless shelters in New York City, including one for homeless families in Long Island City. Amazon announced last week that Long Island City would be the site of one of its additional headquarters.

"We're in celebratory mode. This is a significant grant," says Nathaniel Fields, president and CEO of Urban Resource Institute, who said they submitted a grant application just a few weeks ago and expect to receive the funds by the end of November.

Another recipient is Northern Virginia Family Service, based in Oakton, Virginia, which will receive $2.5 million. Amazon is building its second new headquarters in nearby Crystal City, Virginia.

Other recipients include the Catholic Charities Archdiocese of New Orleans, the Salvation Army of Greater Houston and Community Rebuilders in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

The $100 million in donations amounts to the largest disclosed sum of money that Bezos has given away yet. The biggest gift was previously the $33 million he donated to fund college scholarships for 1,000 undocumented immigrant high school students who live in the U.S. with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, status. Other previous gifts include $15 million to his alma mater Princeton University and $10 million to the Museum of History & Industry in Seattle. He also donated $11.5 million in Amazon stock to an unnamed nonprofit organization last week, according to a regulatory filing.

Bezos, 54, has rapidly become the planet’s richest man. He is currently worth $125 billion, according to Forbes’ real-time rankings. However, due to a decline in the price of Amazon shares that’s a $35 billion drop since we published The Forbes 400 list in early October. He is trailed by Bill Gates, who is worth $95.6 billion, and Warren Buffett, who has a fortune of $87.1 billion.

In a statement, Bezos said he worked with a dozen experts across the nonprofit and government sectors to decide which organizations to fund. He has yet to come out with concrete plans for the Day 1 Academies Fund, for which he will create a network of Montessori-inspired preschools in low-income areas.

Lauren Debter, Forbes Staff

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