- Assets: $33,498,185,159 (2009)
- Grants Received: $1,633,304,452 (2009)
- Grants Awarded: $3,626,100,000 (2009)
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation was created in January 2000 by multi-billionaire Bill Gates and his wife. The Foundation took form through the merger of the Gates Learning Foundation, which worked to expand access to technology through public libraries, and the William H. Gates Foundation (named after Bill's father), which focused on improving global health. William H. Gates is now the President of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
This Seattle-based Foundation has an endowment of approximately $24 billion, making it the largest charitable organization in the world. Its self-identified mission is to help "reduce inequities" in four primary areas:
a) Its Global Health program works "to close the gap between rich and poor countries by encouraging new research and supporting healthcare organizations that reach people most in need." Funding in this area encompasses global health technologies and strategies, infectious diseases, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and reproductive health services
b) The Education program seeks "to ensure that all students in the United States graduate from high school ready for college, work, and citizenship." It makes large grants to black and Hispanic (or "historically underserved") youth.c) The Global Libraries program, which is subdivided into the U.S. Library Program and International Library Initiatives, strives to provide people in the United States and abroad with free Internet access at public libraries. A major objective is "to increase access to technology for residents in low-income and disadvantaged communities."
d) The Pacific Northwest program "works with public and private partners to make a positive impact on the lives of vulnerable families and children in Washington state and Greater Portland, Oregon." Philanthropy in this area is directed toward housing, early learning, and other community service programs.
On June 25, 2006, Warren Buffett (who was then the world's richest person, with an estimated worth approaching $60 billion) pledged to give the Gates Foundation approximately 10 million Berkshire Hathaway Class B shares through annual contributions disbursed over multiple years. In 2006, Buffett gave Gates 500,000 of the 10 million shares -- or 5% of the total -- and those half-million shares had an aggregate value of approximately $1.5 billion. By the terms of Buffett's arrangement with Gates, Buffett would continue to give the Foundation 5% of the remaining earmarked shares in the July of each subsequent year (i.e., 475,000 in 2007; 451,250 in 2008; etc.). Buffett dictated this arrangement so that his yearly donations would not simply increase the Gates Foundation's endowment, but rather would work as a matching contribution, thereby doubling the Foundation's annual giving.
The Gates Foundation is so enormous that the financial portion of its 990-PF form submitted to the IRS, which lists all of its investments, fills nearly 1,500 pages. While the Foundation’s grantmaking is by no means exclusively targeted toward the political left, among the groups it supports are: the Aspen Institute; the Carter Center; the Council on Foundations; Global Justice; the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy (NCRP); the National Council of La Raza; Physicians for Human Rights; Planned Parenthood; the Progressive Policy Institute; the Tides Center and the Tides Foundation; the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF); the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs; the United Nations Foundation; the United States Student Association; the Urban League; the World Resources Institute; and World Vision International.
To view a list of additional noteworthy grantees of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, click here.
(Information on grantees and monetary amounts courtesy of The Foundation Center, GuideStar, ActivistCash, the Capital Research Center and Undue Influence)