Jeff Bezos Donates $100 Million to Obama Foundation in Honor of Late Congressman John Lewis

The Obama Foundation announced Monday that it has received a $100 million donation from Jeff Bezos in honor of late Congressman John Lewis, the Associated Press reported.

Former President Barack Obama's foundation said in a statement that the gift from Bezos is planned "to help expand the scope of programming that reaches emerging leaders" in the United States and around the world. The donation is the largest individual contribution the foundation has received to date.

Bezos has asked for the plaza at the Obama Presidential Center to be named after Lewis, the congressman and civil rights icon who died last year.

"Freedom fighters deserve a special place in the pantheon of heroes, and I can't think of a more fitting person to honor with this gift than John Lewis, a great American leader and a man of extraordinary decency and courage," Jeff Bezos said in the statement released by the foundation. "I'm thrilled to support President and Mrs. Obama and their Foundation in its mission to train and inspire tomorrow's leaders."

The foundation's CEO Valerie Jarrett said in the statement that the foundation is "thrilled" by the idea.

The center is currently under construction in Chicago's South Side. Construction for Obama's legacy project is expected to cost about $830 million and be completed by 2025. The foundation is giving donors the chance to name public spaces in the presidential center as a way to "honor the names of those who have fought for a more just and equitable world."

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Jeff Bezos, California, Gala
Jeff Bezos has donated $100 million to the Obama Foundation in honor of late Congressman John Lewis. Above, Bezos attends the Baby2Baby 10-Year Gala presented by Paul Mitchell at Pacific Design Center on November 13, 2021, in West Hollywood, California. Emma McIntyre/Getty Images

Separately on Monday, NYU Langone Health, a medical center affiliated with New York University, said it has received a $166 million gift from Bezos and his family.

Since Bezos stepped down as CEO of Amazon this year, he has begun to focus more of his attention on philanthropy. NYU Langone, which received the other Bezos gift announced Monday, said in a statement the donation will be used to aid "with the health and wellness of diverse populations" across NYU Langone Hospital-Brooklyn's community, home to one of the school's teaching hospitals and trauma centers.

Last year, Bezos committed to spend $10 billion by 2030 to enhance climate change efforts through his Bezos Earth Fund. In recent months, he has released some details on how he plans to spend that money.

Bezos, whose personal wealth is estimated by Forbes at roughly $212 billion, had long been questioned about the relatively modest level of his charitable giving and reluctance to sign The Giving Pledge. The pledge, developed by Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, is intended to persuade the world's wealthiest to donate more than half their worth to philanthropic organizations.

MacKenzie Scott, Bezos' former wife, whose fortune is estimated at $61 billion, has signed the pledge. Scott has made a splash in the philanthropy world over the past 17 months by donating $8.7 billion — without any strings attached — to numerous nonprofits across the country.

Jeff Bezos, White House, Washington
Former President Barack Obama’s foundation announced Monday that Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has gifted the organization $100 million, which it says is the largest individual contribution it has ever received. Above, Bezos speaks in the State Dining Room of the White House in 2016. Susan Walsh, file/AP Photo