Jeff Bezos is Lex Luthor in the flesh. The richest man in the world, owner of Amazon and The Washington Post, is worth over $200 billion. As a result of COVID-19, Bezos only got richer. Now, the businessman is putting his money into a good cause called The First Bezos Academy.
Doors Open October 19th
The founder and CEO of Amazon has created a free preschool for children from low-income families (via Forbes). Beginning in October, the school will open in Des Moines, which is a town just south of Seattle, Washington. As Bezos has said, it’s one of the first of many free schools he intends on opening. “This classroom is just the beginning,” Bezos wrote on Instagram. “The @bezosacademy opens its doors on Oct. 19th. This one in Des Moines, WA, is the first of many free preschools that we’ll be opening for underserved children. Extra kudos to the team for figuring out how to make this happen even amidst COVID, and to Wesley Homes for stepping up with the facility.”
It’s positive action on Bezo’s part, creating a school for low-income families. It’ll be year-round, five days a week. Children between the ages of three to five can attend the school. Bezos and his team chose Des Moines as their first town based on income levels, lack of access to licensed childcare providers, and other factors. In the future, this is how Bezos and all involved will determine where to build a school.
Back in November, 2018, that’s when Bezos first announced his plans to create preschools. It was after he launched the $2 billion Bezos Day One Fund. The fund assists homeless families and builds schools. The Bezos Day One Fund has given $100 million a year to homeless-focused nonprofits.
Bezos Academy is the name of the school. The academies will be inspired primarily by Montessori, which is a type of education in which curriculums are based on a student’s own interests. It’s the exact sort of education Bezos had when he was a young boy in Albuquerque, New Mexico. “Intuitively, I think it was probably a very formative experience for me to be able to go to those classes, in that environment, and be so stimulated at an early age,” Bezos once said. “I don’t actually know what the scientific research shows, but intuitively I have to imagine that it’s good for little kids.”
What Bezos Could Do Better
Bezos still could, at the very least, show some accountability for his company’s actions during the pandemic. Management in one Amazon warehouse weren’t informing warehouse workers a co-worker of theirs had tested positive for COVID-19. Throughout the pandemic, health issues were not addressed to the satisfaction of overworked, underpaid employees. If Bezos wanted to help more people in the world, he could start with his employees.
An Amazon fulfillment center employee, Chris Smalls, was fired after he led a strike calling out the safety conditions.“Taking action cost me my job,” Smalls has said. “Because I tried to stand up for something that’s right, the company decided to retaliate against me.” Bezos has yet to comment on Smalls’ firing or the strike. A few employees have been let go over, allegedly, asking Amazon to do its part in fighting climate change, too.
As much good as Bezos does for charity, his critics have argued he doesn’t always use his power or money for good. Even though the Amazon founder is making more money, his employees are not. The average Amazon employee makes $15 an hour before overtime. Bezos added an extra $2 an hour during the pandemic, but it didn’t take long for him to cut that extra $2.