Gates fund world’s biggest – Foundation eclipses Wellcome Trust

SEATTLE  ­­­ Microsoft chief Bill Gates and his wife, Melinda, have created the world’s largest foundation with a gift of $5 billion that increases assets of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to $21.8 billion.

The couple, with a net worth of about $90 billion, set up the foundation just five months ago by merging two family foundations into a single entity.

In the past year, the couple poured in $15.1 billion into their family philanthropy, forming the largest foundation in the U.S.

Then in late January, they announced they had contributed another $5 billion.

The gift nudged the Gates foundation ahead of The Wellcome Trust in England, which has reported assets worth about $21.4 billion.

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 teaming up 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 headed by Gates’ father, William H. Gates Jr., 73, a retired lawyer, and Patty Stonesifer, a former Microsoft executive and longtime friend of Bill Gates.

— Cindy Stiff

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