Jeff Bezos to open first nonprofit preschool in Washington as part of $2 billion ‘Day One Fund’

Jeff Bezos, founder and chief executive officer of Inc., speaks at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019.

Andrew Harrer | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Jeff Bezos is set to open the first location of his network of nonprofit preschools that are overseen by his philanthropic “Day One Fund.”

In an Instagram post on Tuesday, the Amazon CEO said the first preschool will be based in Des Moines, Washington. The school is being launched by a non-profit organization called Bezos Academy.

The school will open for in-person classes on October 19, the Day One Academies Fund said. It’s a single-person school that’s planned to accommodate about a dozen students, aged 3 to 5 years old, and will be open year-round, five days a week, the organization said.

The Day One Academies Fund said the school will follow coronavirus safety measures outlined by Washington state officials and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Child care and early learning programs remain open in Washington state.

Enrollment at the school is currently underway, the Day One Academies Fund said. An Amazon spokesperson declined to say how many schools Bezos Academy plans to open. 

Bezos first unveiled his plan to launch a network of “Montessori-inspired” preschools in September 2018. The schools are built in low-income communities and designed for “underserved children,” offering them access to programs that are free of charge.

Montessori schools emphasize hands-on and self-directed learning, with uninterrupted blocks of working time, in mixed age classrooms. Bezos is a product of a Montessori education, along with Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin.

At the time of the announcement, Bezos said he wanted to run the schools using Amazon’s own principles, namely, customer obsession. “The child will be the customer,” he added.

The schools are being launched by Bezos’ Day 1 Academies Fund, which is overseen by Bezos’ philanthropic endeavor, called the Day One Fund. Bezos launched the Day One Fund with a $2 billion commitment in September 2018, with the goal of launching preschools under the Day 1 Academies Fund and helping homeless families under the Day 1 Families Fund.

Bezos’ Day One Fund has been closely watched since its announcement two years ago. As CEO of Amazon, founder of rocket company Blue Origin and owner of The Washington Post, Bezos is the richest man in the world, with a net worth of at least $176 billion. In August, his wealth briefly crossed $200 billion, making him the first person to cross that threshold.

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