Melinda Gates is giving away $1 billion in the next years. Here’s where it’s going

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will change its name to the Gates Foundation

Michelle Chapman
Tuesday 28 May 2024 14:29 BST
Philanthropy Melinda French Gates
Philanthropy Melinda French Gates (Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

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Melinda French Gates announced she will be donating $1 billion over the next two years.

French Gates earlier this month announced she would step down from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and vowed to focus on women and families. She helped co-found the organization nearly 25 years ago.

She has now said she will make the donation to individuals and organizations working on behalf of women and families globally, including on reproductive rights in the United States.

French Gates, one of the biggest philanthropic supporters of gender equity in the US, said Tuesday in a guest essay for The New York Times that she's been frustrated over the years by people who say it's not the right time to talk about gender equality.

"Decades of research on economics, well-being and governance make it clear that investing in women and girls benefits everyone," she wrote.

French Gates touched upon the high maternal mortality rates in the US, noting that Black and Native American mothers are at the highest risk.

Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (Copyright 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

“Women in 14 states have lost the right to terminate a pregnancy under almost any circumstances. We remain the only advanced economy without any form of national paid family leave. And the number of teenage girls experiencing suicidal thoughts and persistent feelings of sadness and hopelessness is at a decade high,” she said.

She said over the last few weeks she's started directing new grants through her organization, Pivotal Ventures, to groups working in the US to protect women's rights and advance their power and influence. The groups include the National Women’s Law Center, the National Domestic Workers Alliance and the Center for Reproductive Rights.

French Gates' Pivotal Ventures is a limited liability company that also manages investments for profit ventures, so there is little public information about its grantmaking or the assets it manages. Pivotal Ventures has focused on a number of avenues to increase women’s economic and political participation and power, like closing the wage gap, compensating care work often done by women, and encouraging women to run for political office.

Looking ahead, French Gates plans to introduce a $250 million initiative in the fall that will concentrate on improving the mental and physical health of women and girls worldwide.

French Gates will be leaving the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation next week. She helped co-found the organization nearly 25 years ago.

The Associated Press receives financial support for news coverage in Africa from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and for news coverage of women in the workforce and state governments from Pivotal Ventures.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will change its name to the Gates Foundation. It is one of the largest philanthropic organizations in the world. As of December 2023, its endowment was $75.2 billion, thanks to donations from Gates and the billionaire investor Warren Buffett. While it works across many issues, global health remains its largest area of work, and most of its funding is meant to address issues internationally rather than in the US

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