Jeff Bezos donated $100 million to the Obama Foundation, the largest individual gift in its history
November 23, 2021
Jeff Bezos donated $100 million to the Obama Foundation, the largest individual gift in its history
Amazon founder Jeff Bezos made a $100 million donation to the Obama Foundation. The donation is the largest individual gift in the organization’s history. Bezos has ramped up his charitable giving in recent months after leaving the helm of Amazon. Get the latest tech trends & innovations — delivered daily to your inbox.
Email address Jeff Bezos has made a $100 million donation to the Obama Foundation, the largest individual donation in the organization’s history.
The Amazon founder’s unrestricted donation will be used to fund multiple groups, including Girls Opportunity Alliance and My Brother’s Keeper, two youth organizations under the foundation’s umbrella. As part of his donation, Bezos requested that the plaza at the Obama Presidential Center on Chicago’s South Side be named the John Lewis Plaza after the late congressman and civil rights leader.
“Freedom fighters deserve a special place in the pantheon of heroes, and I can’t think of a more fitting person to honor with this gift than John Lewis, a great American leader and a man of extraordinary decency and courage,” Bezos said in a press release about his donation.
The news site Puck was the first to report about Bezos’ donation earlier on Monday.
The decision to name the plaza after Lewis — and not Bezos himself — is part of the foundation’s goal of shifting away from granting naming rights to wealthy donors. Instead, public spaces at the foundation’s Chicago hub will be named after “extraordinary change agents upon whose shoulders we all stand,” Valerie Jarrett, the foundation’s CEO, said in the press release.
Bezos’ latest donation follows a slew of high-profile giving over the past several months. Immediately following his spaceflight this past summer, he gave $100 million each to chef Jose Andres and activist Van Jones to dole out as they see fit. Bezos also donated $200 million to the Smithsonian in July and pledged $10 billion in 2020 to fight climate change via the Bezos Earth Fund.
Bezos, who’s worth $210 billion, has ramped up his charitable giving at the same time that he’s been working to carve out his legacy since leaving the helm of Amazon earlier this year. He and his girlfriend, Lauren Sanchez, were highly visible at the United Nation’s climate summit last month, and his other company, Blue Origin, has made two high-profile spaceflights this year alone.
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Jury to begin third day of deliberations in Unite the Right civil trial
Charlottesville, Virginia (CNN) [Breaking news update, published at 3:11 p.m. ET] Claims one and two: A federal jury in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Tuesday could not reach a verdict on claims one and two in the Unite the Right civil trial. Claim one was the most prominent claim against the defendants in the civil lawsuit because it pertains to whether the defendants conspired to commit racially motivated violence. The jury could also not reach a verdict on claim two, which pertains to whether the defendants had knowledge of a conspiracy for racially motivated violence and failed to prevent it. Read More Claim three: The jury finds all defendants violated a Virginia state conspiracy law. The jury awarded the plaintiffs $11 million in punitive damages on the third conspiracy claim. Each of the individual defendants, including Jason Kessler, Richard Spencer, Christopher Cantwell and Matthew Heimbach, are liable for $500,000 each. The five organizations are liable for $1 million each. The jury awarded only $7 to the plaintiffs in compensatory damages. Claim four: A jury has found some defendants in the Unite the Right civil trial liable for violating a Virginia law prohibiting racial, religious or ethnic harassment or violence. [Previous story, published at 2:13 p.m. ET] The jury in the civil case involving White nationalists who organized a two-day rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017, asked for clarification Tuesday on a part of the verdict form that pertains to the lawsuit’s conspiracy claims. The federal jury asked whether it can separate the punitive amount awarded to individual plaintiffs in claim three. The jury did not mention claims one or two. Claim three on the verdict form pertains to Virginia civil conspiracy law. The form asks jurors to list the punitive damage amounts, if any, that should be awarded against each defendant, rather than the amounts that should be awarded to specific plaintiffs. US District Judge Norman Moon answered the jury by saying that they couldn’t separate the punitive amount awarded to individual plaintiffs in claim three, and that only those plaintiffs being awarded compensatory damages could be awarded punitive damages. Jury deliberating in Charlottesville Unite the Right civil trial sends questions to judge The question came on the third day of deliberations, a day after the jury asked the judge about reaching unanimous decisions on the six counts. This was the fifth question asked by the jury since it began deliberating last Friday. On Monday, the 12-member panel asked Moon whether they need to be unanimous on each of the final three counts if they cannot reach a unanimous decision on the first three counts. Two of the counts — five and six — are related just to actions by James Alex Fields Jr., who sped his car into a crowd of protesters, killing one person and injuring dozens. The other involves a statute on racial, religious or ethnic harassment or violence. Without the jury present, the judge said, “I don’t know why there’s any misunderstanding about that. I think I’m going to tell them they must continue to try to reach a unanimous decision on all six counts.” The jury will decide in each count whether each defendant is liable for damages. In a civil trial, plaintiffs’ attorneys have to show a defendant is liable by a “preponderance of evidence,” Moon told jurors, meaning 50.1% or greater chance of the claim is true. Planned removal of statue sparked the rally The Unite the Right rally was held over on August 11 and 12, 2017, to oppose the planned removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. As the violence unfolded, it reached a tipping point when Fields — who was protesting the statue’s removal — drove his car into a crowd of counterprotesters, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer . Twelve people and five White supremacist and nationalist organizations were listed as defendants in the civil lawsuit. The Unite the Right trial is exposing the chasm between who plans White nationalism’s battles and who does the fighting The plaintiffs, who include town residents and counterprotesters injured in clashes, are seeking compensatory and statutory damages for the physical and emotional injuries they suffered due to the violence at the rally. They also contend rally organizers engaged in a conspiracy and planned the violence to ignite a race and religious war. Defense attorneys and two high-profile defendants who are representing themselves argued none of the plaintiffs had proven the defendants had organized racial violence. Closing arguments concluded Thursday. The jurors got 77 pages of final instructions and verdict forms Friday morning and started deliberating. Here’s a look back on what led to the Charlottesville ‘Unite the Right’ civil trial To succeed on the primary conspiracy claim, the plaintiffs must prove the existence of a conspiracy involving two or more people, according to instructions given to the jurors. Also, plaintiffs must prove the conspiracy was partially motivated by “animus” toward Black or Jewish people or because the plaintiffs supported those communities and that such conspiracy aimed to deprive them of their right to be free from racially motivated violence, the jury instructions say. Finally, the plaintiffs must prove at least one person in the conspiracy “took an overt act” in continuing the racial violence and the plaintiffs were injured because of that act, according to the instructions. The plaintiffs who were hit by Fields’ car are seeking $7 million to $10 million in compensatory damages while others are asking for $3 million to $5 million, according to Roberta Kaplan, one of the attorneys representing the plaintiffs. Plaintiffs’ attorneys say defendants were looking to fight 4 cases converge to test American justice A large team of powerful lawyers under the umbrella of the nonprofit Integrity First for America are representing the plaintiffs in their civil case. In closing arguments, attorneys representing the plaintiffs told the jury that the defendants prepared for the “Battle of Charlottesville” and messages sent between them and their actions after the violence were proof of a conspiracy. The lawyers showed texts, messages on the online platform called Discord, and even Facebook Messenger, to show how organizers not only wanted counterprotesters, who they referred to as antifa or communists, to show up, but they were looking forward to a brawl. Organizers wanted the fight so much, they even tried trolling counter-demonstrators in hopes they would throw the first punch, the attorneys said. Defense says no proof of conspiracy Defense attorneys and two high-profile defendants who are representing themselves countered that none of the plaintiffs had proven the defendants had organized racial violence. “Plaintiffs have to prove an agreement. An agreement isn’t a virus that can be passed around at a rally,” said attorney Bryan Jones, who represents three defendants. The defendants have spent the entire trial making the argument that not only do they not know each other, but that they were just taking security measures in case they were attacked antifa. Defendants also made the claim that their hate speech is nothing more than off-color jokes that shouldn’t be taken seriously.