Philanthropy Profile: The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation puts its philanthropy to work all over the world.

Melinda Gates speaks at an event. Photo: JStone / Shutterstock.com

The belief that every life has equal value is what motivates the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. They strive to help all people all over the world lead healthy productive lives.

This means different things in different places. In developing countries, this means improving people’s health and helping the lift them out of extreme poverty. In the United States and the Pacific Northwest, this means supporting and getting resources to those who need help with education.

Both Bill Gates and Melinda (French) Gates were raised in families that taught them the value of giving back to the community. “Both the Gates and French families instilled the values of volunteerism and civic engagement,” say the couple. “Our families believed that if life happens to bless you, you should use those gifts as well and as wisely as you can.”

With that in mind, in 1997, when Bill and Melinda Gates read an article about the children in poor countries who die from diseases that we have all but eliminated in the U.S, they knew they had to help somehow.

Later that year, Bill took his first trip to India to help administer oral polio vaccines. He then started talking about a world without polio and in 1998 they gifted $100 million for polio research.

Currently, the foundation gives grants in Development, Health, Policy and Advocacy and specific United States-based programs. It has headquarters all over the world and on six continents. It supports grants in all 50 states of the U.S. and employs around 1,300 people.

The current value of the foundation’s endowment is almost $40 billion.

The foundation specifically structures itself to be financially transparent as well as transparent with leadership and its decisions. It separates its asset management from its charity work. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Trust is the branch that holds the assets from the Gates family as well as contributions from Warren Buffet. The trust manages the investments and transfers proceeds to the foundation when necessary.

Today, the Gates Foundation works with thousands of partners all over the world. Its goal, as stated on the foundation’s website, is to find solutions for people with the most urgent needs, wherever they live.

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