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Bezos hefty gifts to Obama foundation and NYU medical center

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Former US President Barack Obama’s foundation announced Monday that it has received a $100 million donation from Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, which it claims is the largest single donation it has ever received.

Separately, NYU Langone Health, a medical center associated with New York University, announced on Monday that Bezos and his family had given it a $166 million contribution.

The Obama Foundation, for its part, said in a statement that Bezos’ gift will “help extend the scope of programming that reaches emerging leaders” in the US and around the world.

The donation was also made in memory of Congressman and civil rights icon John Lewis, who died last year. Bezos has requested that the plaza at the Obama Presidential Center, which is currently under construction on Chicago’s South Side, be named after Lewis as part of the gift, according to the foundation.

In a statement, Valerie Jarrett, the foundation’s CEO and a former senior adviser to Obama, said the foundation was “thrilled” by the concept.

Puck News was the first to report about Bezos’ donation to the nonprofit.

The cost of Obama’s legacy project is projected to be over $830 million, with construction expected to be completed by 2025. In the meanwhile, the foundation said it will allow contributors to name public places in the future presidential center to “honor and elevate the names of individuals who have worked for a more just and equal society.”

“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 the statement released by the foundation. “I’m thrilled to support President and Mrs. Obama and their Foundation in its mission to train and inspire tomorrow’s leaders.”

Bezos has began to devote more of his time to philanthropy since stepping down as CEO of Amazon earlier this year. The other Bezos gift, which was disclosed Monday, would be used to help “with the health and wellness of different communities” across the NYU Langone Hospital—Brooklyn community, one of the school’s teaching hospitals and trauma centers in Brooklyn, according to a statement.

Bezos announced last year that his Bezos Earth Fund would spend $10 billion by 2030 to improve climate change efforts. He has revealed some details about how he intends to spend that money in recent months.

Bezos, whose personal wealth is estimated to be over $212 billion by Forbes, has long been questioned about his meager philanthropic donations and refusal to sign The Giving Pledge.

The promise, which was devised by Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, aims to persuade the world’s wealthiest people to devote more than half of their fortune to charitable causes.

The vow has been signed by MacKenzie Scott, Bezos’ ex wife, whose fortune is estimated to be worth $61 billion. Scott has made an impact in the philanthropic industry over the last 17 months by donating $8.7 billion to a variety of NGOs across the country with no strings attached.

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