30 May 2024

Who is getting part of Melinda French Gates' $1 billion in donations to support women and girls?

8:09 pm on 30 May 2024
Melinda French Gates and Jacinda Ardern

Photo: AFP / RNZ

Melinda French Gates announced Tuesday that she plans to donate US$1 billion (NZ$1.64b) over the next two years to organisations supporting women and girls around the world.

French Gates will leave the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which she co-founded with her ex-husband Bill Gates, next week and receive US$12.5 billion from Gates as part of their divorce agreement.

The donations will be made through her Pivotal Ventures group. Here is how Pivotal says it will be divided:

- US$200 million to existing US nonprofits supporting women and girls: Centre for Reproductive Rights, Collaborative for Gender + Reproductive Equity, Collective Future Fund, Community Change, Institute for Women's Policy Research, MomsRising Education Fund, Ms. Foundation for Women, National Domestic Workers Alliance, National Partnership for Women & Families, National Women's Law Centre, New America, The 19th, Roosevelt Institute, States United Democracy Center, Time's Up Legal Defence Fund, and Washington Centre for Equitable Growth.

- US$240 million, in US$20 million grants to each of these global leaders: Dr. Alfiee Breland-Noble, founder of The AAKOMA Project; Olympic gold medalist Allyson Felix; filmmaker Ava DuVernay; Crystal Echo Hawk, founder of IllumiNative; Gary Barker, founder of Equimundo: Centre for Masculinities and Social Justice; Hauwa Ojeifo, founder of She Writes Woman; former New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern; Nobel Peace Laureate Leymah Roberta Gbowee; M. V. Lee Badgett, founding partner of Koppa: The LGBTI+ Economic Power Lab; Richard V. Reeves, founding president of the American Institute for Boys and Men; Sabrina Habib, co-founder and CEO of Kidogo; and Shabana Basij-Rasikh, co-founder of the School of Leadership Afghanistan.

In a statement on its website, Pivotal said: "Each leader will be provided with a US$20 million fund to distribute to charitable organisations they consider to be doing urgent, impactful, and innovative work to improve women's health and well-being in the US and around the world".

It said Ardern "has shown the world how leading with compassion can drive impact. She is a passionate advocate for climate action and a fierce champion for women, including through her continued leadership of the Christchurch Call".

- US$250 million to be awarded to organisations working to improve women's mental and physical health worldwide, selected through an open call with Lever for Change this fall.

French Gates wrote about the $1b in philanthropic funding in a New York Times opinion piece titled: The Enemies of Progress Play Offense. I Want to Help Even the Match.

"To begin, I am announcing $1 billion in new spending over the next two years for people and organisations working on behalf of women and families around the world, including on reproductive rights in the United States," she wrote.

"Experimenting with novel tactics to bring a wider range of perspectives into philanthropy. Recently, I offered 12 people whose work I admire their own $20 million grant-making fund to distribute as he or she sees fit.

"That group - which includes the former prime minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern ... represents a wide range of expertise and experience. I'm eager to see the landscape of funding opportunities through their eyes, and the results their approaches unlock."

Pivotal was founded by French Gates in 2015.


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