The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

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The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation was established in 2000 by its namesake, Bill Gates, and his wife Melinda. The couple created the foundation “to help reduce inequities in the United States and around the world.”1 It is headquartered in Seattle, Washing and is co-chaired by Bill, Melinda and William Gates Sr. Since its founding the foundation has accrued an incredible $31.9 billion and has a net worth of almost $50 billion. With such spending power, the foundation has been able to make great progress, particularly in the areas of global health. It has also made a sincere effort to improve many public school systems in the US.

The foundation is organized much like a corporation, with a hierarchy that contains several tiers of officers. Bill Gates is the founder and co-chair of the institution and is well known for being the richest man of the world. He began his entrepreneurial career as the CEO of Microsoft where he developed the operating system MS-DOS. He went on to create the most popular group of programs in existence, including Windows and Office. He has been named many different things during his life, including “genius” and “evil.” Paranoid theories aside, it is hard to dispute that he has not changed the world in an extremely significant way, and has profited wildly from doing so. He has already announced that in 2008 he plans to step down from Microsoft as CEO so he can focus his efforts towards the Gates Foundation. Melinda Gates is Bill’s wife, and a co-chair of the foundation. She also worked in Microsoft as the General Manager for Information Products, but she left the company in 1996 to pursue her goals in non-profit ventures. She is a former co-chair on the Duke University board of trustees and has acted as a co-chair on the Washington State Governor’s Commission on Early Learning. The two currently live in Medina, Washington, outside of Seattle and have three children. William Gates Sr., Bill’s father, is also a co-chair of the foundation. He started his own fund, known as the William H. Gates Foundation in 1994. In 2000, his charity merged with Gates Learning Foundation to become what is now the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. He has participated in numerous other charity projects and has been involved with many charitable foundations, including the United Way. The Chief Executive Office (CEO) of the Gates Foundation is Patty Stonesifer. She was previously employed by Microsoft as a Senior Vice-President. Since leaving the firm she has served on the board of the Smithsonian Institution, The Seattle Foundation and Amazon.com. Additionally, she joined the U.S. delegation sent to the UN Special Session on AIDS. This group of people is highly talented and used to managing large corporations with major assets at their disposal. Additionally, they have experience in the non-profit sector, which makes them an all-star team of leaders for the foundation.

Another note-worthy person involved with the Gates Foundation is Warren Buffet, the second richest man in the world. In June, 2006 he donated 10 million shares of his Berkshire-Hathaway stock to the Gates foundation, worth an estimated $30.7 billion USD. There were several conditions under which the donation was given: firstly, Bill and Melinda must both be alive and have an active leadership role in the foundation. Secondly, the donation is to be paid out at %5 each year, and estimated $1.9 billion every July, and that money must be distributed in that year. The size of the donation has effectively doubled the foundations assets, and is the single largest donation in history. Buffet is currently the CEO of Berkshire-Hathaway and has earned his entire life’s worth through investments and through the business. He serves the board of directions of the Gates Foundation, but it is more of a symbolic role as he does not actively shape its vision.

The question begs, with such incredible amounts of wealth, how could the Bill and Melinda...
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