Melinda Gates is perhaps best known for being the wife of Bill Gates, but she is a force to be reckoned with in her own right. As co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, she presides over a nearly $40 billion-dollar endowment. Since its establishment in 1999, the foundation has made remarkable progress in improving gender equality, access to education and family health. As an executive, you too have the capacity to implement philanthropic programs in your company.
Early Organization and Goals
The William H. Gates Foundation was first started in 1994 by Melinda, Bill and Bill’s father. The family also had two other charitable foundations, the Gates Learning Foundation and the Gates Library Foundation. In 1999, the family blended all three into the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Initially, the primary purpose of the foundation was to increase access to computerized research and education in communities around the US.
Investor Warren Buffett, who happens to be a family friend of the Gates, contributed an astonishing $30 billion to the foundation in 2006. Melinda quickly got to work restructuring the foundation in light of its new resources. She decided it would focus in three main areas: worldwide health, global development and US education.
In 2011, Melinda restructured the foundation again. Its official mission became to improve equity in education and global health. It also focused on supporting at-risk families in Oregon and Washington state and increasing the digital capabilities of public libraries. The awe-inspiring philanthropic work spearheaded by Melinda and her husband has allowed countless impoverished families around the world to overcome adversities. In 2016, the couple was honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, presented by former President Barack Obama.
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The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University.