SEATTLE – When William H. Gates and his wife added $5 billion into their philanthropic foundation, they made it the world’s wealthiest with assets of $21.8 billion. The Gateses, with a net worth
of about $90 billion, set up the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation just five months ago by merging two family foundations into a single entity. In the past year, the founder of Microsoft Corp. and
his wife poured in $15.1 billion into their family philanthropy, forming the largest foundation in the United States. Then in late January, they announced they had added another $5 billion, turning
their foundation into the largest in the world, just behind The Wellcome Trust in Britain with reported assets worth about $21.4 billion in U.S. dollars. Under tax laws, the Bill & Melinda Gates
Foundation must give away at least 5 percent of its endowment each year. The Seattle-based foundation reported that it gave away about $800 million last year and made commitments of more
than $2 billion. The foundation focuses on health and education, primarily by partnering with established organizations. For example, a $1 billion scholars program is being administered by the
United Negro College Fund and a $750 million donation for children’s vaccines will be guided by a consortium led the World Health Organization, UNICEF and the World Bank. The foundation is
being led by Gates’ father, William H. Gates Jr., 73, a retired lawyer, and Patty Stonesifer, a former Microsoft executive and longtime friend of the younger Gates.