Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Think Tank WRI Receives $100 Million Donation From Bezos

Amazon Founder and CEO Jeff Bezos has just given the largest single donation a think tank has ever received, with $100 million going to the World Resources Institute (WRI) based in Washington, DC.

Here is more from the Washington Post:

Jeff Bezos said Monday he is giving $791 million to 16 groups fighting climate change, the first grants from his Earth Fund, saying the money is “just the beginning of my $10 billion commitment to fund scientists, activists, NGOs, and others."

More than half of the donations went to established environmental groups, with $100 million donations each going to the Environmental Defense Fund, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Nature Conservancy, the World Resources Institute and the World Wildlife Fund.

Leaders of the groups receiving funds said they met earlier this year with Bezos and his partner Lauren Sánchez to discuss what they would do with the grants. Bezos has a small team, including from his personal office, helping to figure out how to parcel out the funds, they said. He will likely hire more people to assist with the Earth Fund.

The World Resources Institute, which will receive $100 million over five years, said it will use the money for two major initiatives. This first is to develop a new satellite-powered land-use and carbon-emissions monitoring system to measure the impact of conservation and restoration of forests, grasslands, wetlands and agricultural lands on reducing emissions. The other project will try to spur the electrification of school buses, with a goal of converting more than 450,000 to zero-emissions vehicles by 2030, the organization said.


Here is a press release from WRI, which was established in 1982 with funding from the MacArthur Foundation.

Although not as well known as other think tanks, such as the Brookings Institution and the Heritage Foundation, WRI has fairly hefty annual revenues: $132 million according to the latest disclosure in 2019.

WRI donors include: Asian Development Bank (ADB), Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Cargill Inc., Citi Foundation, FedEx Corp., Ford Foundation, IKEA Foundation, National Geographic Society, PepsiCo, Inc., Google Inc., 3M, eBay, General Motors, Goldman Sachs, Hershey, Mars Inc., Shell, Target, Walt Disney, Pfizer, Bank of America, Microsoft, Shell Foundation, UPS Foundation, Walmart Foundation, USAID, FDA, and US Department of State.  

The governments of Australia, Ireland, UK, Sweden, Poland, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Germany, France, Denmark, Norway and the Netherlands are also donors.

While colleges and universities have received $100+ million gifts, it is the first time any think tank has received that amount.