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Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
FounderBill & Melinda Gates
HeadquartersSeattle, Washington
Key peopleBill Gates, co-founder and co-chair
Melinda French Gates, co-founder and co-chair
William H. Gates, Sr., co-chair
Patty Stonesifer, CEO
Area servedGlobal
FocusEducation, Healthcare, Ending poverty
MethodDonations and Grants
EndowmentUS$37.6 billion

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (B&MGF) is the largest transparently operated[2] charitable foundation in the world, founded by Bill and Melinda Gates in 2000 and doubled in size by Warren Buffett in 2006. The primary aims of the foundation are, globally, to enhance healthcare and reduce extreme poverty, and, in the United States, to expand educational opportunities and access to information technology. The foundation, based in Seattle, Washington, is controlled by its three trustees: Bill Gates, Melinda Gates, and Warren Buffett. Other principal officers include Co-Chair William H. Gates, Sr. and Chief Executive Officer Patty Stonesifer. It has an endowment of US$37.6 billion as of July 11, 2007.[3]

Additional recommended knowledge



The foundation was initially funded by Bill Gates with US$126 million in 2000. During the foundation's first two years, funding grew to US$2 billion. The B&MGF was endowed by Bill Gates, chairman and founder of Microsoft and his wife, Melinda Gates in January 2000, through the merger of the Gates Learning Foundation and the William H. Gates Foundation. The Gates Learning Foundation was formed out of the Gates Library Foundation, which was founded in 1996, as an outgrowth of the Microsoft Libraries Online initiative.[4] On June 15, 2006, Gates announced his plans to transition out of a day-to-day role with Microsoft, effective July 31 2008,[5] to allow him to devote more time to working with the foundation.

Bill and Melinda Gates, along with the musician Bono, were named by TIME as Persons of the Year 2005 for their charitable work. In the case of Bill and Melinda Gates, the work referenced was that of the B&MGF. On May 4, 2006, the foundation received the Prince of Asturias award for International Cooperation.[6]

The Warren Buffett donation

On June 25, 2006, Warren Buffett (then the world's second richest person, after Gates) pledged to give the foundation approximately 10 million Berkshire Hathaway Class B shares (worth US$30.7 billion on June 23 2006) spread over multiple years through annual contributions.[7] Buffett set conditions so that these contributions do not simply increase the foundation's endowment, but effectively work as a matching contribution, doubling the Foundation's annual giving: "Buffett's gift came with three conditions for the Gates foundation: Bill or Melinda Gates must be alive and active in its administration; it must continue to qualify as a charity; and each year it must give away an amount equal to the previous year's Berkshire gift, plus another 5 percent of net assets. Buffett gave the foundation two years to abide by the third requirement."[8] The Gates Foundation received 5% (500,000) of the shares in July 2006 and will receive 5% of the remaining earmarked shares in the July of each following year (475,000 in 2007, 451,250 in 2008, and so on).[9][10]


As of 2006, the foundation has an endowment of approximately US$34.6 billion. To maintain its status as a charitable foundation, it must donate at least 5% of its assets each year.[11] Thus the donations from the foundation each year would amount to over US$1.5 billion at a minimum.

The Foundation has been organized, as of April 2006, into four divisions, including core operations (public relations, finance and administration, human resources, etc.), under Chief Operating Officer Cheryl Scott, and three grant-making programs:

  • Global Health Program
  • Global Development Program
  • United States Program

Global Health Program

The President of the Global Health Program is Tachi Yamada. The Gates Foundation has quickly become a major influence upon global health; the approximately US$800 million that the foundation gives every year for global health approaches the annual budget of the United Nations' World Health Organization (192 nations) and is comparable to the funds given to fight infectious disease by the United States Agency for International Development.[12] The Foundation currently provides 17% (US$86 million in 2006) of the world budget for the attempted eradication of poliomyelitis (polio).[13]

The Global Health Program's other significant grants include

The Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization
The foundation gave The Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization a donation of US$750 million on 25 January, 2005. [14] [15]
The Institute for OneWorld Health
The foundation gave The Institute for OneWorld Health a donation of nearly US$10 million to support the organization's work on a drug for visceral leishmaniasis (VL).
Children's Vaccine Program
The Children's Vaccine Program, run by the Program for Appropriate Technology in Health (PATH), received a donation of US$27 million to help vaccinate against Japanese encephalitis on 9 December, 2003. [16]
University of Washington Department of Global Health
The foundation provided approximately US$30 million for the foundation of the new Department of Global Health at the University of Washington in Seattle. The donation promoted three of the Foundation's target areas: education, Pacific Northwest and global health.
HIV Research
The foundation has donated a grand total of US$287 million to various HIV/AIDS researchers. The money was split between sixteen different research teams across the world, on the condition that they share their findings with one another. [17]

Global Development Program

President Sylvia Mathews leads the Global Development Program, which combats extreme poverty through grants such as the following:

Financial Services for the Poor

Financial Access Initiative
A $5 million grant allows Financial Access Initiative to do field research and answer important questions about microfinance and financial access in impoverished countries around the world.
Grameen Foundation
A $1.5 million grant allows Grameen Foundation to make more microloans, with the goal of helping five million additional families and successfully freeing 50 percent of those families from poverty within five years. [18]

Agricultural Development

Rice Research
Donated US$800,000 to the Philippine Rice Research Institute to develop rice with higher amounts of micronutrients.
Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA)
The Gates Foundation has partnered with the Rockefeller Foundation to enhance agricultural science and small-farm productivity in Africa, building on the Green Revolution which the Rockefeller Foundation spurred in the 1940s and 1960s. The Gates Foundation has made an initial $100 million investment in this effort, to which the Rockefeller foundation has contributed $50 million.

Global Libraries

Access to Learning Award
Each year an award of up to US$1 million is given to a public library or similar organization outside the United States that has an innovative program offering the public free access to information technology.
Official site: Part of

Global Special Initiatives

The Foundation's Special Initiatives include responses to catastrophes as well as learning grants, which are used to experiment with new areas of giving. Currently, the Foundation is exploring water, hygiene and sanitation as a new focus within Global Development.

Indian Ocean Earthquake
The foundation made total grant donations of US$3 million to various charities to help with the aid effort for victims of the 2004 Indian Ocean Earthquake. These charities include:
  • CARE international
  • International Rescue Committee
  • Mercy Corps
  • Save the Children
  • World Vision
India Earthquake
The foundation made a donation of US$500,000 for the 2005 Kashmir earthquake.[10]
Water, Hygiene and Sanitation
The Foundation is giving the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development US$1,200,000 over 3 years to find new, sustainable ways to make water, sanitation and hygiene services safer and more affordable.

United States Program

Under President Allan Golston, the United States Program has made grants such as the following:

U.S. Libraries

In 1997, the foundation introduced a U.S. Libraries initiative with a goal of “ensuring that if you can get to a public library, you can reach the Internet.” The foundation has given grants, installed computers and software, and provided training and technical support in partnership with public libraries nationwide.

Most recently, the foundation gave a $12.2-million grant to the Southeastern Library Network (SOLINET) to assist libraries on the Gulf Coast of Louisiana and Mississippi, many of which were damaged or destroyed by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.


Carnegie Mellon University
The Foundation gifted US$20 million to the Carnegie Mellon University School of Computer Science for a new Computer Science building which will be named the Gates Center for Computer Science. [11]
NewSchools Venture Fund
The Foundation contributed US$30 million to help NewSchools to manage more charter schools, which aim to prepare students in historically underserved areas for college and careers.
Gates Millennium Scholars
Administered by the United Negro College Fund the foundation donated US$1 billion for scholarships to high achieving minority students. [12]
Gates Cambridge Scholarships
Donated US$210 million in October 2000 to help outstanding graduate students outside of the United Kingdom study at the University of Cambridge. Approximately 100 new students every year are funded. [13]
University Scholars Program
Donated US$20 million in 1998 to endow a scholarship program at Melinda Gates' alma mater, Duke University. The program provides full scholarships to about 10 members of each undergraduate class and one member in each class in each of the professional schools (Schools of Medicine, Business, Law, Divinity, Environment, and Nursing). The program also pays for a full-time administrator who organizes seminars to bring these scholars together for interdisciplinary discussions as well as the selection process in the Spring.
D.C. Achievers Scholarships
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation announced March 22, 2007 a $122 million initiative to send hundreds of the District of Columbia's poorest students to college.[19]
Washington State Achievers Scholarship
The Washington State Achievers program encourages schools to create cultures of high academic achievement while providing scholarship support to select college-bound students.
Texas High School Project[20]
Strong American Schools
On April 25th, 2007, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation joined forces with the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation pledging a joint $60 million to create Strong American Schools, a nonprofit project responsible for running ED in 08, an initiative and information campaign aimed at encouraging 2008 presidential contenders to include education in their campaign policies.[21]

Pacific Northwest

Discovery Institute
Donated US$1 million in 2000 to the Discovery Institute and pledged US$9.35 million over 10 years in 2003, including US$50,000 of Bruce Chapman's US$141,000 annual salary. According to a Gates Foundation grant maker, this grant is "exclusive to the Cascadia project" on regional transportation, and it may not be used for the Institute's other activities, including promotion of intelligent design.
Rainier Scholars
Donated US$1 million
Computer History Museum
Donated US$15 million to the museum in October, 2005. [22]

Plans for closure

In October 2006 the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation was split into two entities: the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Trust, which manages the endowment assets and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which "... conducts all operations and grantmaking work, and it is the entity from which all grants are made."[23][24] Also announced was the decision to "... spend all of [the Trust's] resources within 50 years after Bill's and Melinda's deaths."[25][26][27][28] This would close the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Trust and effectively end the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. In the same announcement it was reiterated that Warren Buffett "... has stipulated that the proceeds from the Berkshire Hathaway shares he still owns at death are to be used for philanthropic purposes within 10 years after his estate has been settled."[29]

The plan to close the Foundation Trust is in contrast to most large charitable foundations that have no set closure date. This should lead to lower administrative costs over the years of the Foundation Trust's life and ensure that the Foundation Trust not fall into a situation where the vast majority of it's expenditures are on administrative costs, including salaries, with only token amounts contributed to charitable causes.[30]


Support for Slum Dwellers International

The Gates Foundation recently donated $10 Million[31] to the global NGO Slum Dwellers International - SDI. This donation has been heavily criticized by membership driven shack dwellers' organisations on the grounds that SDI functions as a 'sweet heart partner' for repressive states that, like the South African government are subjecting shack dwellers to mass forced removals and the severe repression of their organisations. It has been argued that repressive states use SDI to claim 'partnership' with local shack dwellers when in fact SDI is a global NGO deeply embedded in the institutions that drive anti-poor policies (World Bank, USAID etc). Organisations making this critique note that SDI praises repressive governments[32] with which it has formal partnerships while failing to condemn forced evictions and violent state repression by those governments.[33][34][35][36][37][38][39]


The Gates Millennium Scholars fund, according to its official website's frequently asked questions section, only provides scholarships to African American, American Indian/Alaska Native, Asian, Pacific Islander American or Hispanic American applicants.[14] Because the program focuses on racial and ethnic minorities, it has been criticized for excluding Caucasians. However, such grant programs are argued to be necessary to counteract more broadly occurring trends of systemic racism.[15][16]

An op-ed by Ernest W. Lefever, published in the Los Angeles Times on November 1, 1999, stated:
"America's most celebrated college dropout had a great opportunity to boost higher education, help needy students and strike a blow against racism, but he blew it. If Bill Gates had been able to chat with Teddy Roosevelt before launching his breathtaking $1-billion program of college scholarships, America would be a better place. Unless significantly amended, Gates' 'minority' scholarships will further inflame racial tensions, delay the achievement of a colorblind society and subvert the cherished virtue of reward by merit. The Gates Millennium Scholarships for thousands of high school seniors over the next 20 years are intended to produce more scientists, engineers, doctors and educators from among American minorities, who, he claims, are woefully underrepresented in college. His commitment to arbitrarily preferred groups is bound to increase racial resentment. Gates' vague concept of 'diversity' confuses the laudable diversity of cultural talents that strengthens the nation with the self-conscious racial diversity that divides it by breeding arrogance and envy." [40]

Promotion of abortion rights and contraception

Some social conservatives also criticize the foundation for its support of organizations that promote abortion rights and contraception, including the International Planned Parenthood Federation, Guttmacher Institute, the United Nations Population Fund and the World Health Organization.[citation needed]

Investment in oil companies and drug companies

According to a January 7 2007 Los Angeles Times article, the foundation invests large amounts of money in companies whose behavior counters the foundation's charitable goals.[41] Examples include oil companies such as Eni and drug companies who withhold medications from the developing world. According to the article, many other foundations behave similarly. In response, the foundation first announced a systematic review of all of its investments to determine whether it should consider divestment from some companies.[42] Later, it revoked this pledge[43] and said it would continue its current practices.[44]

In a May 4 story, the Los Angeles Times again reported a conflict between the foundation investment policies and charitable goals. [17] In this case the issue was Darfur and PetroChina, an oil company in which Gates trustee Warren Buffett owns a large stake via his Berkshire Hathaway company. PetroChina's parent companies is heavily invested in oil extraction in the Sudan.

Diversion of health care resources

In a January/February 2007 Foreign Affairs article, Laurie Garrett claims that many charitable organizations, among whom the Gates Foundation is prominent, harm global health by diverting resources from other important local health care services.[45] For example, by paying relatively high salaries at AIDS clinics, the foundation diverts medical professionals from other parts of developing nations' health care systems; the health care systems' ability to provide care diminishes (except in the area the foundation funds) and the charities may do more harm than good. Similar findings were reported in a December 2007 Los Angeles Times investigation.[46]

See also

  • Philanthropy
  • Rockefeller Foundation
  • List of wealthiest foundations
  • Innovative Vector Control Consortium
  • PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative
  • Medicines for Malaria Venture
  • Socially responsible investing
  • Corporate social responsibility
  • Social responsibility
  • Social enterprise
  • Social entrepreneurship
  • Impact maximization

Notes and references

  1. ^
  2. ^ On May 11 2006 The Economist reported that the Stichting INGKA Foundation is technically the world's largest charitable foundation while also alleging that the foundation primary purposes are tax avoidance and anti-takeover protection for the home furnishings retail group IKEA.[1]
  3. ^
  4. ^ [2]
  5. ^ Microsoft PressPass. "Microsoft Announces Plans for July 2008 Transition for Bill Gates", Microsoft PressPass, June 15 2006. 
  6. ^
  7. ^ "Warren Buffett gives away his fortune", Fortune, Time Warner via (, June 25, 2006. Retrieved on 2007-12-10. 
  8. ^ [3] [4] [5]
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^ Private Family Foundations
  12. ^ Gates Foundation out to break the cycle of disease, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 8 December 2003
  13. ^
  14. ^ GAVI Alliance (2005-01-24). "Gates Foundation, Norway Contribute $1 Billion to Increase Child Immunization in Developing Countries". Press release. Retrieved on 2007-10-24.
  15. ^ Thomson, Iain (2005-01-25), , . Retrieved on 2007-10-24
  16. ^ Program for Appropriate Technology in Health (2003-12-09). "Children's Vaccine Program Receives Grant From Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to Combat Japanese Encephalitis". Press release. Retrieved on 2007-10-24.
  17. ^ BBC News (2006-07-20), , . Retrieved on 2007-10-24
  18. ^ Grameen Foundation (2006-08-29). "Gates Foundation Awards $1.5 Million to Grameen Foundation". Press release. Retrieved on 2007-10-26.
  19. ^ Bill Gates Gives $122M for D.C. Scholarships.. March 23, 2007.
  20. ^ Texas High School Project
  21. ^ Billionaires Start $60 Million Schools Effort
  22. ^ BBC News (2005-10-17), , . Retrieved on 2007-10-24
  23. ^ Gates Foundation Announces That It Doesn't Plan to Operate Forever
  24. ^ About the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Trust
  25. ^ [6]
  26. ^ [7]
  27. ^ Gates foundation to spend all assets within 50 years of trustees' deaths
  28. ^ Gates Foundation Sets Its Lifespan
  29. ^ [8]
  30. ^ [9]
  31. ^ [ Article on the donation in the Seattle Times}
  32. ^ Radio interview with SDI president]
  33. ^ Abahlali baseMjondolo press release on Gates Foundation Donation to Slum Dwellers International
  34. ^ Intern Africa on Gates Donation
  35. ^ Comments on Gates Donation to SDI on Black Looks
  36. ^ Comment on Gates Foundation Donation to SDI by Robert Neuwirth
  37. ^ Comment on donation at Mute Magazine
  38. ^ Comment at Anarkiso.Net
  39. ^ IndyMedia Comment
  40. ^ [Times Archives]: Bill Gates' 'Diversity' Subverts Merit
  41. ^ Dark cloud over good works of Gates Foundation, Los Angeles Times, 07 January 2006
  42. ^ Gates Foundation to review investments, The Seattle Times, 10 January 2007
  43. ^ Gates Foundation Revokes Pledge to Review Investments, Slashdot, 12 January 2007
  44. ^ Gates Foundation to maintain its investment plan, The Austin Statesman, 14 January 2007
  45. ^ The Challenge of Global Health Foreign Affairs, January/February 2007
  46. ^ Piller, Charles & Smith, Doug (December 16, 2007), " ", Los Angeles Times,
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Bill_&_Melinda_Gates_Foundation". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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