Jeff Bezos Announces He’ll Open Free Preschools in Low-Income Communities

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Jeff Bezos takes a walking tour of the Amazon Spheres on Jan. 29, 2018, in Seattle. Ted S. Warren/AP Photo

Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post and Whole Foods, and now he’s venturing into the realm of early childhood education.

Bezos announced via Twitter that he and his wife, MacKenzie, plan to open a network of nonprofit preschools in low-income communities. They’ll be financed through the Bezos One Day Fund, the business mogul’s new charity. Bezos is committing an initial $2 billion to the fund, which will also be used to support organizations that help homeless families.

Bezos said the preschools will be high-quality and modeled after Montessori schools, which share an educational approach that encourages student independence, uninterrupted blocks of activity time and having classrooms with students of different ages.

The Amazon CEO plans to form an organization that will operate the preschools.

“We’ll use the same set of principles that have driven Amazon,” Bezos wrote on Twitter. “Most important among those will be genuine, intense customer obsession. The child will be the customer.”

The preschoolers will receive full scholarships to attend. However, Bezos didn’t give any further details on where these schools might be located, when they’d open or how parents would be able to enroll their little ones.

Though some critics question how the network of schools would be run (an article in The Washington Post brings up valid concerns), removing the cost barrier could really benefit parents who struggle to afford child care.

The Penny Hoarder surveyed over 1,200 parents in July, and 95% said they sometimes or often felt overwhelmed by the cost of child care. Half the parents we surveyed spent at least 15% of their income on child care. Having to pay for child care affects parents’ careers, where they live, their ability to save money, their ability to pay down debt and their decision to have more kids.

While some cities and states already provide some form of free prekindergarten, they’re more the exception than the norm. We’ll be following along to see how Bezos’ preschool initiative affects the financial lives of families with young children.

Nicole Dow is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. She wishes her daughter’s preschool was free.

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