Guided by the belief that every life has equal value, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation works to help all people lead healthy, productive lives. In developing countries, it focuses on improving people’s health and giving them the chance to lift themselves out of hunger and extreme poverty. In the United States, it seeks to ensure that all people—especially those with the fewest resources—have access to the opportunities they need to succeed in school and life. Grantmaking areas are: 1) Global Development: to help the world’s poorest people lift themselves out of hunger and poverty; 2) Global Health: to harness advances in science and technology to save lives in developing countries; and 3) U.S. Division: to improve U.S. high school and postsecondary education and support vulnerable children and families in Washington State.
Established in 1994 in WA as the William H. Gates Foundation - The William H. Gates Foundation, focused on global health, was created in 1994 by Microsoft co-founder William H. "Bill" Gates, III and his wife, Melinda French Gates. Three years later, he and Melinda created the Gates Library Foundation, which worked to bring public access computers with Internet connections to libraries in the United States. Its name changed to the Gates Learning Foundation in 1999 to reflect its focus on ensuring that low-income minority students are prepared for college and have the means to attend. In 2000, to increase efficiency and communication, the two organizations merged into the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. In 2006, Warren Buffett, founder of Berkshire Hathaway Inc., pledged 10 million shares of Berkshire Hathaway B stock (valued at approximately $31 billion) to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Each year, 5 percent of the remaining pledged shares will be transferred to the asset trust, and starting in 2008, the total value of the previous year's gift must be spent. In 2007, the foundation restructured and created a separate organization, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Trust, to oversee the foundation's assets. The trust will include the annual installments of Warren Buffett's gift to the foundation and in turn, will fund the program foundation. Bill and Melinda Gates will be the sole trustees of the asset trust. The original entity, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, conducts the foundation's programmatic and grantmaking activities. Based in Seattle, Washington, the foundation also has offices in Washington, D.C.; Beijing, China; Delhi, India; and London, United Kingdom. The foundation plans to close 50 years after the deaths of its three current trustees - Bill and Melinda Gates, and Warren Buffett.
Separately from the foundation, Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett have made a commitment to The Giving Pledge, an effort to invite the wealthiest individuals and families to give the majority of their wealth to philanthropic causes during their lifetime or after their death
Matching Gifts Program
The foundation matches the monetary gifts of its employees to eligible charitable organizations.
Global Health Program
The program aims to harness advances in science and technology to save lives in developing countries. The foundation works with partners to deliver proven tools—including vaccines, drugs, and diagnostics—as well as discover pathbreaking new solutions that are affordable and reliable. Equally important is innovation in how it can bring health interventions to those who need them most. The foundation invests heavily in vaccines to prevent infectious diseases—including HIV, polio, and malaria—and support the development of integrated health solutions for family planning, nutrition, and maternal and child health. The program concentrates on the following areas and goals: 1) Discovery and Translational Sciences: direct scientific research toward areas where it can have the most impact and to accelerate the translation of discoveries into solutions that improve people's health and save lives; 2) Enteric and Diarrheal Diseases: eliminate the gap in mortality from enteric and diarrheal diseases between developed and developing countries and to significantly reduce impaired development associated with these diseases in children under age 5; 3) HIV: significantly reduce the incidence of HIV infection and extend the lives of people living with HIV; 4) Malaria: create a world free of malaria; 5) Neglected Infectious Diseases: reduce the burden of neglected infectious diseases on the world's poorest people through targeted and effective control, elimination, and eradication efforts.; 6) Pneumonia: significantly reduce childhood deaths from pneumonia; and 7) Tuberculosis: accelerate the decline in tuberculosis incidence worldwide
Global Development Program
The program aims to identify and fund high-impact solutions that can help hundreds of millions of people lift themselves out of poverty and build better lives. The foundation works closely with its partners to support innovative approaches and expand existing ones so they reach the people who are most in need. The program concentrates on the following areas and goals: 1) Agricultural Development: reduce hunger and poverty for millions of farming families in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia by increasing agricultural productivity in a sustainable way; 2) Emergency Response: reduce suffering and save lives in regions affected by natural disasters and complex emergencies; 3) Family Planning: bring access to high-quality contraceptive information, services, and supplies to an additional 120 million women and girls in the poorest countries by 2020 without coercion or discrimination, with the longer-term goal of universal access to voluntary family planning; 4) Financial Services for the Poor: alleviate poverty by expanding access to digitally-based financial tools and services.; 5) Global Libraries: ensure that all people, especially those in disadvantaged communities around the world, have access to information through technology in public libraries; 6) Maternal, Neonatal and Child Health: ensure that mothers and babies survive and remain healthy during pregnancy, childbirth, and early childhood; 7) Nutrition: ensure that all children have the nutrition they need for a healthy start in life; 8) Polio: eradicate polio worldwide; 9) Vaccine Delivery: eliminate vaccine-preventable diseases worldwide; and 10) Water, Sanitation and Hygiene: enable universal access to sustainable sanitation services by supporting the development of radically new sanitation technologies as well as markets for new sanitation products and services, such as the initiative to Reinvent the Toilet in order to bring sustainable sanitation solutions to the 2.5 billion people worldwide who don't have access to safe, affordable sanitation.
The program's primary focus is on ensuring that all students graduate from high school prepared for college and have an opportunity to earn a postsecondary degree with labor-market value. The approach is to play a catalytic role—to support the development of innovative solutions in education that are unlikely to be generated by institutions working alone and that can trigger change on a broader scale. The foundation also works to address issues of social inequity and poverty in Washington State, where the Gates family has lived for generations and the foundation makes its permanent home. The program concentrates on the following areas and goals: 1) College-Ready Education: support innovation that can improve U.S. K-12 public schools and ensure that students graduate from high school ready to succeed in college; 2) Postsecondary Success: ensure that all low-income young adults have affordable access to a quality postsecondary education that is tailored to their individual needs and educational goals and leads to timely completion of a degree or certificate with labor-market value; and 3) Washington State: create opportunities for all children in Washington State to thrive in stable families, great schools, and strong communities.
Global Policy and Advocacy Division
The division engages in advocacy efforts to promote public policies that advance the foundation's work, build strategic alliances with governments and the public and private sectors, and foster greater public awareness of urgent global issues. The division has teams dedicated to advocacy, policy analysis, and government relations, as well as strengthening the charitable sector in the United States and overseas. In addition to the policy and advocacy staff at the foundation's Seattle headquarters and in Washington D.C., it has a European and Middle East office based in London, country offices in China and India, and representatives in Ethiopia and South Africa. The division works on tobacco control to reduce tobacco-related death and disease in developing countries by preventing the initiation of new smokers, decreasing overall tobacco use, and reducing exposure to secondhand smoke. And, through its charitable sector support it empowers the growing charitable sector with knowledge, tools and a supportive policy environment to unlock more resources, invest more effectively, and achieve greater impact around the world.
Grants to Individuals Program
Combating COVID-19 Fund
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has created the Combating COVID-19 Fund to advance work in four crucial areas : (1) development of diagnostic tools; (2) a Therapeutics Accelerator to support R&D efforts focused on developing new drugs and exploring the potential to repurpose existing medicines; (3) vaccine development; and (4) protecting the most vulenerable people in Africa and South Asia by supporting leaders and organizations in these regions to prepare their healthcare systems, train health workers, and ensure continuity of care for other diseases and health needs as the coronavirus pandemic expands.