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Jeff Bezos and his wife MacKenzie. Photo: Franziska Krug/Getty Images

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos on Thursday revealed his long-awaited plans to increase his philanthropy: he and his wife have committed $2 billion to give to charities that support homeless people and to build new preschools in low-income areas.

Why it matters: The scale of his wealth means he can have a dramatic influence over almost any area of society he chooses. Up until now, Bezos has been relatively ungenerous compared to his status as the richest person in the world.

The details: The so-called "Bezos Day One Fund" will start with spending $2 billion in two areas:

  • Charities that already exist to support homeless families
  • The creation of a network of “high-quality, full-scholarship, Montessori-inspired preschools in underserved communities"

The big picture: Silicon Valley companies and the people who got rich off of them are under pressure to account for their role in rising inequality and other strife in society. As Amazon continues its march towards dominance, philanthropic efforts will provide Bezos with an argument he is changing the world without any regard for his self-interest.

Go deeper

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus cases rose 10% in the week before Thanksgiving.
  2. Politics: Supreme Court backs religious groups on New York coronavirus restrictions.
  3. World: Expert says COVID vaccine likely won't be available in Africa until Q2 of 2021 — Europeans extend lockdowns.
  4. Economy: The winners and losers of the COVID holiday season.
  5. Education: National standardized tests delayed until 2022.
4 hours ago - Health

Standardized testing becomes another pandemic victim

Photo: Edmund D. Fountain for The Washington Post via Getty

National standardized reading and math tests have been pushed from next year to 2022, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) announced Wednesday.

Why it matters: There’s mounting national evidence that students are suffering major setbacks this year, with a surge in the number of failing grades.

4 hours ago - World

European countries extend lockdowns

A medical worker takes a COVID-19 throat swab sample at the Berlin-Brandenburg Airport. Photo by Maja Hitij via Getty

Recent spikes in COVID-19 infections across Europe have led authorities to extend restrictions ahead of the holiday season.

Why it matters: "Relaxing too fast and too much is a risk for a third wave after Christmas," said European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.