Jeff Bezos’ Philanthropic Support for New Montessori Schools
Earlier this month Amazon CEO and the world’s richest individual, Jeff Bezos, announced a huge philanthropic project over Twitter. Alongside his wife MacKenzie, Bezos will launch a $2 billion effort in assisting homeless families and starting Montessori-inspired preschools in low-income communities. Half the fund, called “Day 1 Families,” will issue annual leadership awards to organizations doing impressive work providing support to homeless families, while the other half, ”Day 1 Academies,” will fund a network of full-scholarship Montessori preschools in underserved areas of the United States.
Jeff Bezos attended a Montessori school in Albuquerque, New Mexico when he was young, and later graduated from Princeton University with a degree in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science in 1986. Eight years later, he founded the online retailer Amazon.com, and in the span of 20 years, his net worth went from $1.6 billion to an estimated $164 billion.
Bezos’ goal to bring early education to minority and low-income communities who may not otherwise get a chance at quality early education is a shared one. Dr. Maria Montessori’s initial mission and approach focuses on the belief that children’s minds from birth to age six hold a tremendous ability to learn from the world around them, so making early education opportunities available for every child should be a priority. Additionally, Bezos wants these new preschools to mimic Amazon’s company values and leadership principles. Amazon’s number-one focus is customer-obsession, and with the new Day 1 Academies Fund, the child is the customer.
Importance of Early Learning
Studies show that early learning programs provide a positive influence on a child’s social, academic and economic future. At an Economic Club of Washington Event, Bezos reflected on the importance of early education, saying “If you can give somebody a leg up when they’re three or four years old, by the time they get to kindergarten or first grade, they’re much less likely to fall behind.”
However, eligibility requirements and financial stipulations can hinder enrollment growth, especially in marginalized areas, making Bezos’ mission to create these full-scholarship schools in low-income communities an even more meaningful effort.
The Day 1 Academies Fund has the opportunity to raise awareness about Montessori-inspired education among policy makers and the media, as well as parents who are evaluating what types of schooling is best for their child. Donating to charitable causes becomes more important as income disparity increases and the question of philanthropic responsibility is brought up time and time again. Perhaps Bezos’ project could inspire other individuals of influence to start taking notice and making more investments in early education and AMS-accredited schools.