Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation:
Organizations Be More than Self-Serving?
The Bill & Melinda Gates
Foundation is dedicated to improving people's lives by sharing
advances in health and learning with the global community.
The foundation was created in January of 2000, through the
merger of the Gates Learning Foundation, which focused on
expanding access to technology through public libraries, and the
William H. Gates Foundation, which focused on improving global
health. Led by Bill Gates' father, William H. Gates, Sr., and
Patty Stonesifer, the Seattle-based foundation has an endowment
of approximately $24 billion.
"The Road Ahead," Mr. Gates' book, with him
standing in the middle of an empty highway in remote eastern
Washington. Mr. Gates, the richest man in the world, began a five-year
philanthropic effort to put computers in every poor library
district in the United States "I thought digital technology
would eventually reverse urbanization, and so far that hasn't
happened," Mr. Gates said. Three years ago, when stock in
, the company Mr. Gates co-founded, hit an all-time high of $119
a share, Mr. Gates was worth nearly $75 billion in Microsoft
holdings alone. Now, he is about $40 billion lighter, on paper.
"My value is still so much higher than I ever expected
it to be by a factor of about 50," Mr. Gates shrugs his
losses off. "So the fact that at one point it was say, a
factor of 60, well — that wealth is all going back to society
anyway." The charitable group that Mr. Gates started with his wife,
the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, is now giving away $1.2
billion a year. Mr. Gates said he was pleased that its first
major philanthropic effort, the library project, had helped to
narrow the digital divide.
Inside the Seattle headquarters of the foundation, a giant
map shows the progress of the campaign to give computers to
libraries in every state. The campaign started with the poorest
regions, mainly in the South and Great Plains, though distressed
urban areas are included, too. The foundation has fared much better than Mr. Gates's
personal fortune. Other philanthropies, notably those started by
David and Lucile Packard and by Ted Turner, have seen their
assets shrink considerably with the stock market collapse.
By contrast, the Gates Foundation has grown, and now has
assets of $24 billion — far more than any single philanthropy
in the country. The foundation weathered the storm, Mr. Gates
said, because less than 2 percent of its money is invested in
stocks, though Mr. Gates said that could rise to 25 percent over
the next four years, as it pursues bargains in the market. "They are the only major foundation that is still doing
great," said Stacy Palmer, editor of the Chronicle of
At 47, Mr. Gates has handed out $5.5 billion for global
health issues, education and the library project, which is the
first major initiative at the foundation to essentially run its
course. Critics say Mr. Gates has raised his philanthropic profile at
the same time his company has been battling court rulings that
found Microsoft to be a monopoly that violated the law in trying
to dominate the personal computer market. Even giving 40,000 computers to libraries is seen by some as
simply an effort to create a bigger customer base for Microsoft
Patty Stonesifer, the president of the foundation, who
started at Microsoft more than 15 years ago, says Mr. Gates was
committed to putting computers in every library well before he
was labeled a monopolist, and would be committed to it long
afterward. Mr. Gates's belief that the Internet can have a
democratizing effect. Andrew C. Gordon, hired by the foundation to evaluate the
library project, found that library use went up and usually not
at the expense of books. He also found that most people who used
the donated computers were poor, in the income bracket where the
digital divide has been greatest.
But the No. 1 thing that people used the computers for was to
keep in touch with family and friends through e-mail, Mr. Gordon
said. He also found that 22 percent of new computer users in the
libraries said they helped them find jobs; whether those jobs
were in a different location was never tracked. Staff members of the foundation answer questions and provide
support to librarians, but that will be phased out in the next
two years. The biggest question about the project is whether it will
sustain itself once the Gates people walk away, after spending
about $250 million on the project.
Mr. Gates seems ready to check the library project off his
to-do list. His model was Andrew Carnegie, who left hundreds of
sturdy libraries standing in small towns as part of his
philanthropic legacy. "You know, Carnegie was a pretty hard-core guy," he
said, leaving Main Street here, where the biggest digital sign
displays the price for wheat: $4.80 a bushel. "I'd be happy
if I could think that the role of the library was sustained and
even enhanced in the age of the computer."
Source: Timothy Egan,
"Bill Gates Views What He's Sown in Libraries" (NYTimes,
November 6, 2002).
* * *
History & Rationale of
Gates Library Initiative
The Gates Library Initiative began in 1997, and is dedicated to partnering
with public libraries to bring computers, Internet access and technical training
to library patrons in low-income communities in the United States and Canada.
The Gates Library Initiative is the cornerstone of the Gates Learning
Foundation, which was recently renamed to reflect the foundation's broadened
support for new global initiatives that bridge the gap between those who have
access to the power of technology and the Internet and those who don't
The Gates Library Initiative (GLI) today announced the formation of an
Advisory Group to provide counsel to the Initiative on its programs within the
United States. The U.S. Programs Advisory Group, made up of nationally respected
library leaders, will be responsible for providing GLI with advice and feedback
on grant activities and program direction."
Our Advisory Group partners have spent their careers in the library community
working to bring access to knowledge to all people, and collectively have a
wealth of information and ideas on how we can best meet our Foundation mission
within the U.S.," said Richard Akeroyd, executive director of the Gates
Library Initiative. "To effectively bridge the "digital divide"
– the gap between those who have access to the power of technology and the
Internet and those who don't—we need to link arms with partners who share our
Members of the Advisory Group were chosen for their experience in library
services, national leadership, and effective outreach to their community.
Advisory Group members include: John Christensen, former Minnesota Librarian of
the Year and the current Executive Director of the Traverse des Sioux Library
System serving 40 public libraries and branches in the nine-county area of south
Ginnie Cooper, past President of the Public Library Association, a member of the
governing council of the American Library Association, and the current director
of libraries for the Multnomah County Library in Portland, Oregon.
Ken Wiggin, Connecticut State Librarian and former Director of Libraries for the
New Hampshire State Library.
Luis Herrera, Director of the Information Services Department for the City of
Pasadena, a member of the American Library Association council, and past
president of REFORMA, the National Association to Promote Library Service to the
Deborah Jacobs, City Librarian of the Seattle Public Library, former Library
Services Manager of the Corvallis-Benton, Oregon County Public Library System,
and Library Journal's Librarian of the Year in 1994.
Sara Parker, Missouri State Librarian, former Commissioner of Libraries and
Deputy Secretary of Education in Pennsylvania, Montana State Librarian and past
President of the Chief Officers of State Library Agencies (COSLA).
Martin Gomez, Executive Director of the Brooklyn Public Library, member of the
American Library Association Executive Board, and member of the New York State
Regents Commission on Library Services.
The Foundation's five-year goal is to reach more than 10,000 American and 1,400
Canadian libraries, and provide training for librarians, taking an active role
to provide information access for future generations.
The highest percentage of people with on-line access are those earning more than
$75,000 in urban areas (50.3 percent); the lowest percentage of people with
on-line access are those earning between $5,000 and $10,000 in rural areas (2.3
"By making Internet access available at public libraries, particularly
those that serve lower-income patrons, the Gates Foundation is carrying on the
idealistic and public service role that our libraries have always served, and
continuing in the tradition of Andrew Carnegie, another great library
philanthropist," said Secretary Harris
The mission of the Gates Learning Foundation is to bridge the "digital
divide" – the gap between those who have access to the information and
knowledge found through computers and the Internet and those who do not.
To date, the Gates Learning Foundation has worked with more than 1,600
under-served public libraries in 29 states to bring Internet access and training
to their patrons. The Foundation's five-year goal is to reach more than 10,000
American and 1,400 Canadian libraries, and provide training for librarians,
taking an active role to provide information access for future generations.
Further Development of Gates' Philanthropy
The William H. Gates Foundation and the Gates Learning
Foundation are coming together as a single organization called the Bill &
Melinda Gates Foundation. As Bill and Melinda’s giving increased it became
clear that the programs of the two organizations were overlapping. The
Foundation will support programs in global health and learning, with the hope
that as we move into the 21st century advances in these critical areas will be
available for all people.
Global health is a major focus of Bill and Melinda’s giving. Recent strategic
and collaborative gifts include: $50 million to the Malaria Vaccine Initiative (MVI)
to accelerate the development of a new vaccine to prevent malaria; The Bill and
Melinda Gates Children’s Vaccine Program, a $100 million commitment to speed
the delivery of life-saving vaccines to children in developing countries;
Motherhood Mortality Reduction, a $50 million program administered by Columbia
University to prevent maternal death in pregnancy and childbirth in the poorest
countries; and a $25 million gift to the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative
to assist with the development of an AIDS vaccine.
Learning is the parallel focus of Bill and Melinda’s philanthropic work.
Recent grants include: a $200 million commitment to bring computers, Internet
access, and training to low-income libraries in the United States and Canada;
and grants to the Teacher Leadership Project and Smart Tools Academy in
Washington state to improve access to technology and training throughout the
K-12 system at the administrative levels.
The consolidation of the two Foundations reflects increased efficiency and
communication between the global health and learning initiatives, and an
opportunity to continue to build the asset base for these critical programs well
into the next century.
The Foundation will be led by Bill’s father, William H. Gates, Sr., and Patty
Stonesifer, as co-chairs.
Bill and Melinda Gates have increased their Foundation endowment over the course
of the last two years, with enhancements of approximately $5 billion in each of
the first three quarters of 1999, bringing the total assets of the Bill &
Melinda Gates Foundation to more than $17 billion.
* * *
* * *
Criticisms of Gates'
Bill Gates Earned His Fortune and Has
No Obligation To "Give It Back" To Those Who Didn't Earn It
By Robert W. Tracinski
Computing editor John Dvorak carps that giving money to provide computers for
libraries and classrooms is too self-interested, that it is mere
"marketing" for Microsoft. And, of course, Gates has met with
incessant criticism that he is not giving his fortune away quickly enough—that
he should give it all away now.
common theme of these criticisms is that Gates is being too
self-assertive—that he is spending the money as he sees fit, to promote his
own particular interests and values, and in ways that might conceivably benefit
him. In other words, the complaint is that Gates is acting as if this is
money to be given away on his
schedule and in accordance with his
the fact is that it is his money.
Gates has earned his fortune by his own effort. His wealth did not come from an
inheritance or a government grant. He did not exploit it from his employees,
many of whom have become millionaires, or from his investors, who have profited
spectacularly. Nor did he gain that money at the expense of his customers, who
have gained enormous increases in their productivity.
is no way to avoid the fact that Bill Gates's money was made by his own work and
effort, and, most of all, by his thinking. He
his billions by building an enormously productive organization, encouraging new
innovations, predicting technological trends, and creating new products.
criticism of Gates comes from the opposite premise: the view that Gates did not
create and does not own his fortune. This view is based, at root, on a Marxist
premise: that the businessman is a thief who appropriates the wealth produced
collectively by "society"—as if "society" sat behind Bill
Gates's desk and did his work for him. Thus, in this view, the businessman has
an obligation to "give back" the wealth he has stolen.
these premises, the criticism of Gates would be justified. If Gates has merely
appropriated society's resources—then he has no right to use those resources
in a way that clashes with society's wishes. If he is merely "giving
back" to society the money to which it already has a right—then he has no
right to withhold that money for his own purposes. The only course of action
fully consistent with the idea that Gates's fortune belongs to society would be
for him to give up everything immediately—and to hand it over to whatever
agency steps forward to proclaim itself as the best representative of society's
himself accepts this basic premise, describing himself as having the
"privilege" of being "a steward of some of society's
resources." But this is in fact a grave injustice, and one that the victim,
unfortunately, is cooperating with. Gates is not a steward of
"society's" resources, for the simple reason that "society"
did not produce his fortune: he did. Rather, it is the spokesmen for
"society" who are acting as parasites when they demand that a
businessman take the wealth he has earned and "give it back" to those
who did not earn it.
like "giving back" have a superficial air of benevolence because of
their association with acts of generosity toward one's fellow man. But the
actual meaning of the phrase is that the businessman is to be treated as a slave
who has no right to the wealth he has produced. There is no other explanation
for the fact that Gates has received criticism and hostility as a reward for his
may be good reasons for Gates to give away his billions. He may decide that it
is more money than he could ever managed to spend on his own personal enjoyment,
or he may prefer to see the money go to causes that he personally values instead
of to heirs who may not deserve it. But we should always remember that it is
money, that it is his choice to give it away, and that he has a right to expect
gratitude rather than hostility in return.
* * *
* * *
Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in
By Melissa V.
According to the
author, this society has historically exerted
considerable pressure on black females to fit into one
of a handful of stereotypes, primarily, the Mammy, the
Matriarch or the Jezebel. The selfless
Mammy’s behavior is marked by a slavish devotion to
white folks’ domestic concerns, often at the expense of
those of her own family’s needs. By contrast, the
relatively-hedonistic Jezebel is a sexually-insatiable
temptress. And the Matriarch is generally thought of as
an emasculating figure who denigrates black men, ala the
characters Sapphire and Aunt Esther on the television
shows Amos and Andy and Sanford and Son, respectively.
points out how the propagation of these harmful myths
have served the mainstream culture well. For instance,
the Mammy suggests that it is almost second nature for
black females to feel a maternal instinct towards
As for the source
of the Jezebel, black women had no control over their
own bodies during slavery given that they were being
auctioned off and bred to maximize profits. Nonetheless,
it was in the interest of plantation owners to propagate
the lie that sisters were sluts inclined to mate
* * *
Sex at the Margins
Migration, Labour Markets and the Rescue Industry
By Laura María Agustín
This book explodes several myths: that selling sex is completely different from any other kind of work, that migrants who sell sex are passive victims and that the multitude of people out to save them are without self-interest. Laura Agustín makes a passionate case against these stereotypes, arguing that the label 'trafficked' does not accurately describe migrants' lives and that the 'rescue industry' serves to disempower them. Based on extensive research amongst both migrants who sell sex and social helpers, Sex at the Margins provides a radically different analysis. Frequently, says Agustin, migrants make rational choices to travel and work in the sex industry, and although they are treated like a marginalised group they form part of the dynamic global economy. Both powerful and controversial, this book is essential reading for all those who want to understand the increasingly important relationship between sex markets, migration and the desire for social justice. "Sex at the Margins rips apart distinctions between migrants, service work and sexual labour and reveals the utter complexity of the contemporary sex industry. This book is set to be a trailblazer in the study of sexuality."—Lisa Adkins, University of London
* * * * *
The White Masters of the
The World and Africa, 1965
By W. E. B. Du Bois
W. E. B. Du Bois’
Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization
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Ancient African Nations
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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan
The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll
Only a Pawn in Their Game
Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for
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January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of
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