SEATTLE, US.- Bill Gates launched a new fight against systemic poverty in the U.S., with his private foundation on Thursday announcing millions of dollars toward initiatives ranging from data projects to funding for community activists.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation said it will spend $158 million combating American poverty over the next four years. It comes as the foundation moves deeper into U.S. issues after largely focusing on global health and development.
Critics have long challenged Gates to do more to help the poor at home in the U.S. Specific programs and grants to combat poverty have not been identified but the foundation’s work will be informed by the U.S. Partnership on Mobility from Poverty, an ideas-oriented task force.
The partnership is housed within the Urban Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based liberalleaning think tank, and said it has worked to create ideas over the past two years that philanthropic groups, businesses and government could carry into action.
Members of the task force have issued proposals as broad as “confront racism” in neighborhood planning and as specific as urging an expansion of the child tax credit and eligibility for housing assistance vouchers to help families with children under 6.
In addressing the income gap, they advocate for better jobs and more workers’ rights through wage subsidies, community college access and a gig-economy benefits system, among other concepts.
Foundation CEO Sue DesmondHellmann said data and analysis are needed to root out possible answers at the core of poverty. But she also acknowledged that studying the problem would be the easy part.