Melinda French Gates to resign from Gates Foundation, will pursue own philanthropy with $12.5 billion grant


Melinda Gates, co-founder of the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation arrives at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France on July 01, 2021.

Mustafa Yalcin | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Melinda French Gates, the former wife of Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, announced on Monday she would resign as co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation next month.

French Gates said in a statement on X that it was a “critical moment” to protect and advance women’s rights around the world. The announcement comes almost exactly three years after the Gates’ announced their divorce.

She said she will have “an additional $12.5 billion to commit to my work on behalf of women and families” as a result of her resignation and the Gates’ divorce agreement. The couple divorced in May 2021.

Bill Gates in a separate statement said, “I am sorry to see Melinda leave, but I am sure she will have a huge impact in her future philanthropic work.”

The Gates Foundation’s work has focused on worldwide anti-poverty and global health initiatives, including anti-malaria efforts in Africa, and extensive investment across the Indian subcontinent and South Asia.

French Gates has also devoted significant amounts of time and money toward gender-equality initiatives worldwide. In 2015, she founded Pivotal Ventures, a separate entity from the Gates Foundation, which is focused on removing barriers to access and opportunity for minorities and women in the U.S.

Fractured finances following divorce

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and his wife Melinda during an interview in New York on February 22, 2016.

Shannon Stapleton | Reuters

Gates and French Gates separated in 2021, more than two years after CNBC first reported on the Microsoft co-founder’s relationship with disgraced financier and convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

French Gates began meeting with divorce lawyers in 2019, after news of Gates’ relationship with Epstein first emerged, The Wall Street Journal previously reported.

The Gates Foundation has been one of the most powerful private philanthropic forces in the world in recent decades. Gates directed the lion’s share of his fortune to the foundation along with his family office Cascade.

French Gates joins MacKenzie Scott, the ex-wife of Amazon co-founder Jeff Bezos, in fully separating her philanthropic ventures from her former husband’s.

Here is French Gates’ full statement:

After careful thought and reflection, I have decided to resign from my role as co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. My last day of work at the foundation will be June 7th.

This is not a decision I came to lightly. I am immensely proud of the foundation that Bill and I built together and of the extraordinary work it is doing to address inequities around the world. I care deeply about the foundation team, our partners around the world, and everyone who is touched by its work.

I am taking this step with full confidence that the foundation is in strong shape, with its extremely capable CEO Mark Suzman, the Executive Leadership Team, and an experienced board of trustees in place to ensure all its important work continues. The time is right for me to move forward into the next chapter of my philanthropy.

This is a critical moment for women and girls in the U.S. and around the world — and those fighting to protect and advance equality are in urgent need of support. Under the terms of my agreement with Bill, in leaving the foundation, I will have an additional $12.5 billion to commit to my work on behalf of women and families. I’ll be sharing more about what that will look like in the near future.

This is breaking news. Please check back for updates.

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