The world’s billionaires are working on a new way to give their money away.
Bill and Melinda Gates, Romesh and Kathy Wadhwani, Jeff Skoll, Richard Chandler, and The Rockefeller Foundation have signed on as the initial core partners of Co-Impact, a new venture launched Wednesday that allows these wealthy philanthropists to pool some of their resources and develop new approaches to giving.
Romesh Wadhwani is the founder and CEO of Symphony Technology Group and worth an estimated $3.1 billion. Skoll, worth some $4.5 billion, built his fortune via eBay (he was its first full-time hire and president). Chandler, with some $2.1 billion in wealth, co-founded investment firm Sovereign Global, which focued on emerging markets. Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft, is worth an estimated $89.1 billion. Meanwhile, The Rockefeller Foundation, founded in 1913 by John D. Rockefeller, Sr., to “promote the well-being” of humanity, reported nearly $4.1 billion in assets last year.
The Wadhwanis, Skoll, and the Gates are already signatories of the Giving Pledge created by the Gates and Warren Buffett. By committing to the Giving Pledge, the uber-rich promise to give away the majority of their wealth. But unlike that pledge which focuses on the “how much,” Co-Impact has its eyes on the “how.”
The venture will start with a $500 million injection into “three critical areas—health, education, and economic opportunity—to improve the lives of underserved populations across the developing world,” according to the group’s statement.
Beyond its core members, Co-Impact says it expects to add co-investors based on individual initiatives and geographic regions. Olivia Leland, managing director at The Rockefeller Foundation and founding director of the Giving Pledge, is credited with founding Co-Impact and will serve as its CEO.
“We believe that collaboration is critical to solving some of the world’s most daunting social challenges,” Leland said in a statement. “Our goal is to build a community where philanthropists can work and learn together—along with successful social change leaders—to drive extraordinary results.”
The group says its first grants worth up to $50 million will be issued in the first half of 2018. The money will go to “initiatives with proven leadership and results that are poised to scale even further” and will be awarded based on more than a year’s worth of due diligence and field research.