On Sept. 13, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos ’86 and his wife, MacKenzie Bezos ’92, announced the creation of a $2 billion fund to support homeless and low-income families. The fund, named the “Bezos One Day Fund,” will both support existing nonprofits and address immediate needs by providing shelter for homeless individuals and launching a network of full-scholarship, Montessori-inspired preschools in low-income communities.
In a Twitter post last week, Bezos wrote that the Bezos One Day Fund will use “the same principles that have driven Amazon,” adding that in his preschools “the child will be the customer.” The fund’s vision statement, “no child sleeps outside,” echoes that of Mary’s Place, a center for homeless women in Seattle, which partnered with Amazon in the spring of 2016.
Ironically, the website for Mary’s Place details how, after working with Amazon to convert an old hotel into a shelter, the shelter was soon demolished to make way for Amazon’s new headquarters.
Bezos’ announcement about the fund faced fierce backlash, with many criticizing his charitable ventures as an effort to distract from Amazon’s increasingly notorious workplace conditions.
Warehouse workers have complained that they are routinely denied bathroom breaks and punished for calling in sick.
James Bloodworth, who went undercover as a worker at an Amazon warehouse, said in a BBC interview that there was “something slightly ironic” about Bezos’ choice to support the homeless.
“There have been credible reports of Amazon warehouse workers sleeping outside in tents because they can't afford to rent homes on the wages paid to them by the company,” Bloodworth noted.
Bezos was also accused of hypocrisy in light of Amazon’s successful efforts to evade an employee head tax that would have funded homelessness relief efforts in Seattle, where the company is headquartered.
Neither Jeff nor MacKenzie Bezos responded to requests for comment.