Jeff Bezos, of Amazon fame, recently announced the Bezos Day 1 Fund with initial funding of $2 billion — a fitting example of technology, philanthropy and education aligning.
According to Forbes, Bezos has a history of funding educational scholarships. In January, he gave $33 million of scholarships (1,000 scholarships of $33,000) to help DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) students pay for college.
Bezos’ Day One Fund is said to continue his focus on education — although focus earlier in the student journey. The Day 1 Academies Fund will focus on Montessori-inspired preschools in underserved communities. Forbes notes, “Bezos himself is an alumnus.”
But the announcement is more than funding. Bezos tweets:
“I often talk about the importance of maintaining a Day 1 mentality. It’s always Day 1 …”
“We’ll use the same set of principles that have driven Amazon. Most important among those will be genuine, intense customer obsession. The child will be the customer.”
Before signing off to, “It remains Day 1!”
Many hear about the educational fund and think of funding opportunities. And there may be some. But what if the greatest gift the tech guru brings to philanthropy is a mindset. A foundational mindset that is unimpressed with the “way it has always been done.” A foundational mindset that is unapologetic about using technology to maximize every dollar spent, improve educational outcomes and drive community engagement.
Colleges and universities often measure age in decades and centuries. The same can be said for many related philanthropic practices. The Pony Express and Thomas Edison are still founders of many philanthropic practices. It may be time to add Jeff Bezos to that list. Here’s to Day 1.
By Kevin Bauman, Director of Philanthropic Initiatives, Capture Higher Ed