Bill and Melinda Gates: five initiatives championed by their foundation

Despite announcing their divorce, the couple have said they will remain dedicated to continuing to support causes they believe in through their foundation

After 27 years of marriage, Bill and Melinda Gates are divorcing. The billionaire couple, who have three children together, announced the news on social media on Monday.

"After a lot of thought and a lot of work on our relationship, we have made the decision to end our marriage," the couple wrote in identical tweets on their personal Twitter accounts.

"We no longer believe we can grow together as a couple in this next phase of our lives."

Scroll through our gallery above to see more photos of Bill and Melinda Gates through the years.

Bill, who co-founded Microsoft and is one of the wealthiest people in the world, and his wife established the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in 2000.

The philanthropic organisation has made contribution to fighting poverty and disease around the world and had a net asset of $43.3 billion at the end of 2019, according to the last public record shown on its website.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation headquarters in Seattle, Washington, U.S., on Monday, May 3, 2021. Bill and Melinda Gates have made the decision to end their marriage, they said in a statement, tweeted by Bill Gates. They will continue to work together at the foundation, according to the statement. Photographer: David Ryder/Bloomberg
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation headquarters in Seattle, Washington, US. Bloomberg

Despite the split, the couple have pledged to continue their charitable work together. In the past, the Gates have supported widely praised programmes in malaria and polio eradication as well as focused on public health, climate change and education.

According to their website, since 2000, the foundation has spent more than $53.8bn through its initiatives, with the couple donating $20bn from Microsoft stock towards the organisation. Investor Warren Buffett has also donated more than $2bn of stock as part of previously-announced plans to give away his entire fortune before his death.

In 2020, the foundation partnered with UK research charity Wellcome and Mastercard to establish the Covid-19 Therapeutics Accelerator to quicken the development of new and repurposed drugs to help treat coronavirus patients, committing $1.75bn towards that goal.

After the World Health Organisation appealed for funding, the Gates Foundation also pledged an extra $150m on top of the $100m they had already donated to help the fight against the coronavirus.

Here’s a look back at other five initiatives the couple have championed and aided over the years:

The Gates Cambridge Scholarship

Established in 2000 with a $210m donation from the foundation, the Gates Cambridge Scholarship exists to financially support outstanding students who are studying at the University of Cambridge, one of the most prestigious universities in the world. The scholarship is also one of the most competitive with only 0.3 per cent of applicants being awarded. Scholarships cover the cost of a postgraduate degree with more than 1,800 students from more than 110 countries being award since its creation.

The Gates Millennium Scholars Programme

The foundation has another programme that aids students in higher education. The Gates Millennium Scholars Programme was created in 1999 and is funded by a $1.6bn grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The goal is to help increase the number of minority students graduating university with a degree in science or other similar disciplines. Helping reduce financial barriers for people of colour, the programme has helped more than 20,000 high-achieving students.

Sound Families Initiative

Another project launched by the couple addressed family homelessness in the Puget Sound region in Washington state in the US. Between 2000 to 2008, through a $40m grant, the initiative helped provide housing for households that earned less than $16,000 a year and built more than 1,450 transition homes for families during that time period.

Supporting farmers in Africa and Asia dealing with climate change

Another venture taken on by the foundation includes a $300m pledge over three years from 2018 to 2000 to help support agricultural research that helped some of the world’s poorest farmers better adapt to increasing challenges brought about by climate change, such as rising temperatures, droughts and flooding and attacks on crops from pests.

Helping aid during global disasters

The foundation made total donations of $3m to various charities to help aid effort for the victims of the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake that was registered at a magnitude of 9.1 to 9.3, the third-largest ever recorded. It also donated $500,000 to the 2005 Kashmir earthquake that was considered one of the deadliest to hit South Asia. In 2014, it released “flexible funds” to UN agencies and organisations of $50m to fight against Ebola in West Africa.

Updated: May 4, 2021 06:59 PM

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