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Jeff Bezos Donates Huge Sum To Obama Foundation

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Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is on a giving spree.

The second-richest person in the world on Monday committed $100 million to former president Barack Obama’s foundation. Separately, his parents’ charitable entity, the Bezos Family Foundation, pledged $166 million to New York University medical center. The gifts come on the heels of $96 million in donations from Bezos last week to 32 organizations helping homeless families.

Bezos’s gift to the Obama Foundation is the largest it has ever received. In a press release, the foundation said the donation will honor the late civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis, and as part of the gift, Bezos asked to name the plaza at the Obama Presidential Center, which is currently under construction on Chicago’s South Side, after the civil rights icon. 

“Freedom fighters deserve a special place in the pantheon of heroes, and I can’t think of a more fitting person to honor with this gift than John Lewis, a great American leader and a man of extraordinary decency and courage,” Bezos said in a statement. “I’m thrilled to support President and Mrs. Obama and their Foundation in its mission to train and inspire tomorrow’s leaders.”

The Obama Foundation will use the money to “expand the scope” of programming focusing on leadership, including the foundation’s Girls Opportunity Alliance, My Brother’s Keeper and the Global Leaders Program. Courtney Williams, communications director for the Obama Foundation, said the foundation will receive $100 million in cash—not Amazon stock like last week’s donations.

Also on Monday, NYU Langone Hospital in Brooklyn said it received $166 million from the Bezos Family Foundation, which was started by Bezos’ parents, Mike and Jacklyn Bezos. The donation will be used to address “social determinants of health and key drivers of health inequities,” NYU Langone said in a press release. Bezos’ parents were early investors in Amazon and have funded the Bezos Family Foundation since it was started in 2001, according to tax filings. The Bezos Family Foundation had $88 million in assets at the end of 2019, according to the most recently available IRS filing. 

Since he stepped down as CEO of Amazon in July, Bezos has made a series of high-profile donations and pledges. This month alone, Bezos has given away 39,579 shares of Amazon worth about $144 million to nonprofits, according to Securities and Exchange Commission filings, but an Amazon spokesperson declined to say where those shares went. 

In all, Bezos has given away less than 1% of his total net worth, according to Forbes estimates, and he hasn’t signed the Giving Pledge, a commitment to donate the majority of one’s wealth to charitable causes.

Last week, he gave $100 million to organizations helping homeless families through the Bezos Day One Fund, which he started in 2018 with a $2 billion commitment with his then wife, MacKenzie Scott. After touching down from his brief excursion into space over the summer, Bezos pledged $100 million each to chef José Andrés and political commentator Van Jones and promised another $200 million to the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum. 

Forbes pegs Jeff Bezos’ net worth at about $207 billion as of midday EST on Monday. That puts him about $100 billion behind Elon Musk, who’s worth an estimated $307 billion.