10 biggest US foundations and what they do

What are the 10 biggest foundations in the United States? Here they are in ascending order, based on their assets, along with a little bit about what social problems each addresses.

1. Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation - $34.6 billion

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, headquartered in Seattle, has $34.6 billion in assets.

Describing itself as an organization of impatient optimists, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation comes in first place with $34.6 billion in its asset trust endowment, according to the Foundation Center. Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates started the foundation in 1994 with his wife, Melissa, with the goal of “unlock[ing] the possibility of every individual;” in fact, Mr. Gates moved out of Microsoft’s day-to-day operations in 2008 to devote more of his time to his philanthropic efforts. Today, the Seattle-based foundation is still dedicated to its mission through initiatives and grantmaking to other organizations it trusts to operate in line with foundation goals. The foundation works in four program areas across six continents: global health, global development, US education, and global policy and advocacy. In 2006, billionaire investor Warren Buffett began his annual tradition of donating Berkshire Hathaway shares to the foundation; his 2012 gift was worth $1.52 billion.

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Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

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