SEATTLE -- Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos says he’ll spend $2 billion to fight homelessness and open up more preschools. Bezos made the announcement Thursday on Twitter.
"The numbers of families experiencing homelessness is increasing especially on the West Coast and definitely right here in Seattle and King County," said Marty Hartman, director for Mary's Place, a homeless shelter in Seattle.
The Amazon CEO and his wife, MacKenzie Bezos, will commit $2 billion to fund existing nonprofits that help homeless families and to create a network of preschools in low-income communities. They call their project the "Bezos Day One Fund."
Bezos tweeted a statement Thursday that the fund will issue annual leadership awards to organizations "doing compassionate, needle-moving work to provide shelter and hunger support to address the immediate needs of young families." There will also be full scholarships for Montessori-inspired preschools in "under-served" communities, he said.
Earlier this year, Amazon successfully fought off an employee head tax on large businesses in Seattle that would’ve been used to address homelessness. Mary’s Place is one of the organizations Bezos has already partnered with to help keep people off the street.
"We are as passionate about this issue as Jeff and McKenzie are. We want to bring every child inside and we know that it is solvable and doable," said Hartman.
Bezos says Mary’s Place will be used as a model for other partnerships created through The Day One Fund. Amazon has already donated one of its buildings to the group, providing a home to hundreds of women, children and families. The Day One Fund will also focus on improving early education, creating high-quality, nonprofit preschools in underserved communities.
“This early childhood learning is an amazing gift that can change generations. We all know that if you want to change a life, educate a child," Hartman said.
Each year, leadership awards will be awarded to organizations that show their dedication and success in improving the lives of young families.
Bezos' tweet didn’t say when the new program would start or who would be running the operation.