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Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

Prince of Asturias Award for International Cooperation 2006

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is dedicated to achieving equitable access to health care and education worldwide by supporting numerous projects in over one hundred countries, to which it dedicates over 70% of its donations. The Foundation was created in January 2000 as a result of merging the Gates Learning Foundation, which worked towards affording public libraries greater access to technology, and the William H. Gates Foundation, which dedicated its efforts towards improving global health. The Foundation, co-chaired by Bill Gates, his wife, Melinda French Gates and William H. Gates Sr., has an endowment of 29.2 billion dollars. Since the Foundation was created, the Gates, who are considered to be the world´s biggest philanthropists, have donated over 10.5 billion dollars towards global development and the fight against diseases such as malaria and AIDS, which are devastating the most deprived areas of the world.

The Foundation, with headquarters in Seattle, is outstanding for the large donations it makes to a range of causes: 50 million dollars to the Global Fund to fight Aids and 750 million dollars to the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization. During the January 2006 Davos Forum, it announced a further donation of 500 million dollars to the Global Plan to stop Tuberculosis, to be increased to 900 million in 2015. The Foundation targets four areas: global health, education, libraries and Northwest Pacific. However, it focuses its greatest economic efforts on Global Health, by reducing the divide between people living in wealthy nations and those in developing nations, as well as by encouraging the development of lifesaving medical advances and ensuring that they reach those who need them most. This endeavour focuses on Infectious Diseases, HIV-AIDS and Tuberculosis, Child and Reproductive Health, and Global Health Initiatives. Since 2005, the Foundation has dedicated specifically to the donations included in this programme a total of over 6.5 billion dollars. As of June 2006, 2.69 billion dollars had been allocated to its Education programme, which targets African-Americans and Hispanics in the United States. The Northwest Pacific and Libraries programmes have distributed 585 and 301 million dollars. According to Foundation, it had a capital of 34,500 million US dollars in December 2009

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation also collaborates and partners with other charities to achieve its philanthropic goals. US billionaire Warren Buffet, who joined the cause of the Foundation in 2006 with a donation of 31,000 million US dollars, comprising 80% of his fortune, began a campaign in June 2010 together with Bill Gates, “The Giving Pledge”, to get the richest men in the United States to donate at least 50% of their fortune to philanthropic causes in their own lifetime or in the form of a bequeath. The Rockefeller Foundation has teamed up with them to seek new methods of cultivation in sub-Saharan Africa with the aims of alleviating hunger and freeing millions of people from poverty. This project has received an initial contribution of 100 million US dollars from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and 50 million US dollars from the Rockefeller Foundation.

Bill Gates is president and founder of Microsoft Cooperation, a company which he created in 1977 with his friend and partner, Paul Allen and which in 2006 employed 61,000 people in 102 countries. He was named Knight Commander of the British Empire and in 2006 he received the Grand Gross of the Order of Henry the Navigator from the Portuguese government, in recognition of his fight against poverty and disease. Melinda French Gates fulfilled her professional activities at Microsoft until 1996, when she retired from her position in order to direct her efforts towards non-profit activities. From her position at the Foundation, she works with the organization´s partners and grantees to further its objectives. William H. Gates Sr. attended the University of Washington where he earned his law degree. In 1998 he retired from the law firm Preston Gates & Ellis, of which he was a founding partner. He helped his son in his interest to use his resources to improve child health by managing the William H. Gates Foundation, which was created in 1994.

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