Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

Each year for the past six years, Bill and Melinda Gates have written a letter about how their foundation is trying to make the world a better place, how they're trying to improve health and education and end poverty. Their 2015 letter was published Wednesday on the foundation's blog. (Note: The Gates Foundation is a supporter of NPR.)

Abbas Dulleh
AP Photo

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation says it will spend $50 million to support emergency response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, in addition to the $10 million the foundation has already committed.

In an announcement Wednesday, the Seattle-based foundation said the money will go to the United Nations and international organizations involved in fighting transmission of the virus.

Kyle Stokes

At first, Julianna Dauble balked at the idea of protesting against the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

"We've all gotten Gates money one way or another," said Dauble, a fifth-grade teacher in Renton. "I don't know a single teacher who has not gotten Gates money for computers, different grants, small schools initiatives — all the things he's done in the Seattle area, especially."

In fact, the Gates Foundation sends more money to K-12 education causes around the U.S. than any other philanthropy, and some teachers have come to regard that influence as a threat.

Nati Harnik / Associated Press

The nation’s largest charitable foundation has a job opening. CEO Jeff Raikes announced Tuesday morning that he’ll be stepping down after five years of running the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Raikes started out as a Nebraska farm boy, and built a long career at Microsoft before transitioning to the Gates Foundation in 2008. He took over an organization ballooning in size, and he said one of his legacies is helping organize the foundation to support its enormous ambitions.

Some critics say that ending polio has become Bill Gates' "white whale."

Why not just settle for the huge drop in polio cases that we've seen over the past decade and then spend money on other things that kill so many more kids, like diarrhea and malnutrition?

"Polio is special," Gates tells NPR's Robert Siegel on All Things Considered. "Once you get it done, you save $2 billion a year that will be applied to those other activities. There's no better deal economically to getting to zero."

bnilsen / Flickr

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation thinks safe sex isn’t as much fun as it should be.

At least, that seems to be the gist of one request for a grant application from the world’s largest philanthropy as part of its Grand Challenges Explorations program. One of the goals for this round is to develop a better condom.

“It is a bit unusual,” said Stephen Ward, the program officer with the Gates Foundation administering the project.

Melinda Gates is running full tilt against the Catholic Church on family planning and now the philanthropy’s blog is pumping out this thinly disguised attack on, well, rich people. Something seems to be changing over there. The Gates Foundation is getting political. As the authors — Joe Brewer, Martin Kirk and Adriana Valdez Young — say:

“The depiction of poverty as a background reality with no human cause conceals the active role of decision makers to create and perpetuate it.”

Read the full story on Humanosphere.

Humanosphere

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — Bill and Melinda Gates have donated $500,000 to the campaign to uphold the state's same-sex marriage law.

Bellamy Pailthorp / KPLU News.

When you flush the toilet every day, you probably aren’t thinking much about where your waste goes. But Seattle’s Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is putting that question on the international agenda.

They’re donating more than three and a half million dollars in grants and prize money to help developing countries take advantage of new waste treatment technologies. A “Reinvent the Toilet Challenge” fair kicked off yesterday.

KPLU environment reporter Bellamy Pailthorp went to check it out. (Click "Play" above to hear the elements of her story.)

The Associated Press

Even though the AIDS epidemic is still spreading, the disease is not killing as many people as it used to, because of new drugs. And that's emboldened many leading AIDS researchers and policymakers to talk about ending the epidemic in the next few years.

Melinda Gates is promoting access to contraceptives around the world, and urging everyone to believe it's not a controversial step.

She's co-hosting a global summit on Wednesday in London, along with the British government.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation hopes to overcome religious and cultural resistance by saying birth control is simply one option that women want.

The Associated Press

In a "landmark" legal case, the pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline pled guilty last week to engaging in fraudulent, criminal behavior which included covering up adverse drug side-effects, promoting ineffective therapies and hiding unfavorable data — and will pay a record $3 billion in fines.

An aspect of the story that seems to be underreported is that one high-profile Glaxo executive alleged to have engaged in misbehavior is Tachi Yamada, former head of global health for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation who was before that head of research and development for GSK.

Read more on Humanosphere.

Tom Paulson / KPLU

Earlier this week, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced the latest 100 winners of $100,000 grants from its Grand Challenges Exploration program aimed at supporting high-risk, creative approaches to improving health and fighting poverty in poor countries.

Celebrated for funding “wild” and “wacky” ideas, this year’s batch of Gates Grand Challenge winners included proposals to develop, as the AP reported, unmanned drones to deliver vaccines, tattoos for monitoring pregnancy and a “tuberculosis breathalyzer.”

Read more on Humanosphere.org

The Associated Press

Three Seattleites are among the 220 new members elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences this year: Melinda Gates, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and Dr. Larry Corey, president and director of Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.

Read more on Humanosphere.

Tom Paulson / Humanosphere

As part of a somewhat spotty call for a worldwide protest against the practices of the multinational agricultural company Monsanto, about 40 protesters in Seattle descended upon the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation on Friday to demand that the philanthropy sever all its ties with the firm.

Read more on Humanosphere.

Keith Seinfeld / KPLU

If you’ve ever been past the huge new Gates Foundation campus near Seattle Center and wondered what goes on inside – your time has come.

The foundation is opening up its doors, at least a little bit. This weekend, a new visitor center opens to the public.

Read more at KPLU's Humanosphere.

“These are not neglected diseases but diseases of neglected people.”

For the London Declaration on Neglected Diseases, the Gates Foundation pledged $363 million to support research into new treatments.

Drug makers pledged to step up research as well as to expand donation programs of medications to poor countries. And others such as the World Bank, the United Arab Emirates, the U.S. and U.K. have brought the total estimated commitment to $785 million.

But we and others are wondering, What is a neglected disease? Some say cancer and mental illness are two of the largest neglected diseases that don’t normally get lumped in the ill-defined category.

Read more on Humanosphere.

Tom Paulson / KPLU

The BBC report is a nice overview of how the Seattle philanthropy, in the last decade-and-a-half, has emerged to dominate the humanitarian arena. But it doesn’t really break much new ground and follows on a number of similar, or harder-hitting reports, such as this much-cited series done last fall by Alliance magazine called Living with the Gates Foundation.

“What we think is global health, how we define this mission, is increasingly decided by a relatively small number of Americans living in Seattle, Washington,” Laurie Garrett, with the Council on Foreign Relations, told the BBC.

Read more on Humanosphere.

Talking to the BBC about global health and poverty, Bill Gates also discussed the issue of the Greek crisis overwhelming the G20 talks and how nervous he was because of the opportunity to move the agenda of nations.

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Technology can triumph over one of the oldest plagues of humanity. That was the underlying theme of Bill Gates’ pep talk to malaria researchers gathered this week in Seattle:

"A key reason I think we will succeed is that we have the ability to innovate. This is really behind most of the improvements in the human condition. Innovation is one of  the most powerful forces in the world. 

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Leaders at the Seattle non-profit group PATH – and their sponsors at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation– say they’re excited about the latest results from a malaria vaccine trial in Africa. The interim results don't guarantee it will be a success, but it’s the best any malaria vaccine has ever done.

Matt Handy / Flickr

Four years ago the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation called for the eradication of malaria. Since then it has spent nearly $2 billion in the effort.

While there has been success, many still wonder: What factors are driving malaria away? What's causing the success? There are also many confounding factors at play ranging from climate change to the mysterious disappearance of mosquitoes in east Africa.

Joshua Trujillo / Seattlepi.com

“Charity begins at home” and hundreds of people in Seattle are now looking at a wet, cold winter with no place to sleep.

That’s what homelessness advocate Jarvis Capucion said to me when I asked him why protesters decided to camp outside the Seattle campus of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation this week.

“Jimmy Buffett’s 'Singing for Change' project gave us $10,000 a few months ago,” said Capucion. “I want to know why Warren Buffett and Bill Gates can’t do the same.”

SEATTLE — The Gates Foundation says its headquarters campus in Seattle has been certified at the highest level of green buildings.

El patojo / Flickr

What do coffee drinkers and teachers have in common?

A shared passion to educate local school kids. At least, that’s what the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Starbucks are counting on. The two mega-institutions have teamed up to help King County public school teachers get money for unfunded classroom projects.