Amazon Founder Gives $15 Million to Catholic Charities

Organizations in New Orleans, Miami and Washington state were selected to receive grants by the Bezos Day 1 Families Fund.

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Three Catholic charitable organizations were named as winners of $5-million grants from the charitable organization of Jeff and MacKenzie Bezos. 

Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New Orleans, Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Miami, and Catholic Community Services of Western Washington were three of the 24 organizations selected to receive grants by the Bezos Day 1 Families Fund.

A total of $97.5 million was distributed amongst the selected organizations, with the grants awarded at either the $5 million- or $2.5-million levels.

The Amazon founder and CEO launched the Bezos Day 1 Fund in September. It operates two separate funding streams: the Families Fund, which distributes grants to nonprofits combating homelessness, and the Academies Fund, which seeks to create a network of preschools in low-income areas.

On the fund website, Bezos explains that the goal of the awards was to “shine a light and support the organizations that are doing compassionate, needle-moving work to provide shelter for young families in communities across the country.”

The selected organizations, Bezos explained, “are working on a number of initiatives that support families in need,” including the administration of homeless shelters and assistance with finding permanent housing.

“We hope these grants provide the additional resources these leaders and their organizations need to expand the scope and impact of their efforts.”

Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Miami issued a statement expressing gratitude to have been one of the organizations selected. The money will be used by Catholic Charities to assist the homeless in Miami-Dade, Broward and Monroe counties.

“We are grateful to Jeff and MacKenzie Bezos for their generous and timely Day 1 Families Fund grant that allows Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Miami to be at the forefront of providing social services to children and families experiencing homelessness in the tri-county area of South Florida,” said Peter Routsis-Arroyo, CEO of Catholic Charities.

This grant will allow Catholic Charities to help even more children and families out of poverty, explained Routsis-Arroyo. He said that their selection “demonstrates Catholic Charities’ continued commitment and history of service to those in need.”

Catholic Community Services of Western Washington expressed similar sentiment. Agency director Denny Hunthausen told Northwest Catholic that the grant is “an encouraging sign that, together, we are committed to addressing this challenge” of ending homelessness in their area.

“[The grant] will have a considerable impact on family homelessness in Pierce County,” said Hunthausen. Over the next four years, Catholic Community Services is expected to help more than 3,600 families experiencing homelessness with the money from the grant.

Catholic Community Services of Western Washington operates a network of shelters, including day shelters and overnight shelters. Currently, they are not able to assist every family in need, but are hoping the grant will allow them to open up an expanded day center. They are also looking to create a mobile unit to help assist homeless families.

Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New Orleans, in a published statement on its website, also expressed gratitude at its selection. The money “will help us meet the needs of so many families experiencing homelessness in our community,” said Sister Marjorie Hebert, president and CEO of Catholic Charities Archdiocese of New Orleans.

There are currently hundreds of people in New Orleans who are in need of a place to live, explained Sister Marjorie, and her organization is “committed to serving those in need.”

“This grant will be critical in helping us continue to provide a comprehensive network of social services that connects our clients to resources and acts as a springboard to self-sufficiency.”