ShareThis Page
World

Bill Gates pumps $158 million into push to combat U.S. poverty

| Thursday, May 3, 2018, 3:18 p.m.
In this Feb. 1, 2018, file photo, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and his wife Melinda take part in an AP interview in Kirkland, Wash. Bill Gates is starting a new fight against systemic poverty in America, as his private foundation announces millions of dollars toward unspecified initiatives ranging from data projects to funding for community activists.
In this Feb. 1, 2018, file photo, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and his wife Melinda take part in an AP interview in Kirkland, Wash. Bill Gates is starting a new fight against systemic poverty in America, as his private foundation announces millions of dollars toward unspecified initiatives ranging from data projects to funding for community activists.

SEATTLE — Bill Gates launched a new fight against systemic poverty in the U.S., with his private foundation on Thursday announcing millions of dollars toward initiatives ranging from data projects to funding for community activists.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation said it will spend $158 million combating American poverty over the next four years. It comes as the foundation moves deeper into U.S. issues after largely focusing on global health and development. Critics have long challenged Gates to do more to help the poor at home in the U.S.

Specific programs and grants to combat poverty have not been identified but the foundation's work will be informed by the U.S. Partnership on Mobility from Poverty, an ideas-oriented task force.

The Gates Foundation, the world's largest philanthropic organization, funded the task force to kick-start its entry into American poverty issues. The partnership is housed within the Urban Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based liberal-leaning think tank, and said it has worked to create ideas over the past two years that philanthropic groups, businesses and government could carry into action.

Members of the task force have issued proposals as broad as “confront racism” in neighborhood planning and as specific as urging an expansion of the child tax credit and eligibility for housing assistance vouchers to help families with children under 6.

In addressing the income gap, they advocate for better jobs and more workers' rights through wage subsidies, community college access and a gig-economy benefits system, among other concepts.

How the Microsoft co-founder's money will make it all happen is unclear, but the foundation is expected to fund pilot projects and research that will help support such ideas.

Foundation CEO Sue Desmond-Hellmann said data and analysis are needed to root out possible answers at the core of poverty. But she also acknowledged that studying the problem would be the easy part.

“It's easier to generate data than it is to make an impact,” Desmond-Hellmann said.

The Seattle-based foundation, which was established in 2000 and has an endowment worth over $40 billion, has been turning its attention to U.S. poverty, with Gates publicly discussing a trip to Atlanta last year as a “searing portrait of American poverty.”

In the U.S., the foundation has primarily focused on trying to reshape American schools, making itself the largest benefactor of school reform in the country. Desmond-Hellmann said its new strategy on poverty issues will complement its existing education work.

In an interview this year with The Associated Press, the Gateses talked about broadening their agenda to look at other problems that hinder children in the classroom.

“Poverty is like education, where there's not enough philanthropic resources to take on responsibility, but if you can show how to have a lot more impact, then the policies will benefit from that,” Bill Gates said at the time.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.

click me