The gift, in honour of the late-Congressman John Lewis, will “help expand the scope of programming that reaches emerging leaders in the United States and around the world,” Courtney Williams, a spokesperson for the foundation, said in a statement. “As part of the gift, Bezos has asked for the plaza at the Obama Presidential Center to be named the John Lewis Plaza.”
Bezos, 57, has been on a philanthropic spree since he stepped down as Amazon.com Inc.’s chief executive officer in July, giving away almost US$600 million this year, including the latest announcement, which was first reported on Monday by Puck Media.
Days before completing an 11-minute flight into space through his company Blue Origin, Bezos announced a US$200 million gift to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, with the bulk of it going to establish the Bezos Learning Center. After the trip, Bezos said he would provide US$100 million each to Van Jones, a CNN political contributor and founder of Dream Corps, and chef Jose Andres, co-founder of World Central Kitchen, which helps feed people in disaster-stricken regions.
Bezos also announced a gift to fight family homelessness through his US$2 billion Day One Fund promise, with US$96 million going to 32 organizations. His US$10 billion Earth Fund pledge to fight climate change has also revealed more of Bezos’s plan in recent months, including at the COP26 in Glasgow.
Bezos, who’s worth US$209.9 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, has rapidly increased donations after years of relatively little giving. His ex-wife MacKenzie Scott has emerged as one of the most prominent philanthropists in the world after they divorced in 2019. This year she’s given away US$2.7 billion, bringing her total donations since the divorce to more than US$8.5 billion.