Following a successful trip to space on Tuesday, Amazon founder and the world’s richest man, Jeff Bezos, announced he’s donating $100 million each to lawyer and criminal justice reform advocate Van Jones, and José Andrés – a chef and food philanthropist.
During the announcement of the donation after Bezos touched down from space, the billionaire said the two recipients are at liberty to do “what they want” with the funds, CNN reported. “They can give it all to their own charity,” Bezos added. “Or they can share the wealth. It is up to them.”
Bezos also revealed the donations were part of a philanthropic drive he intended to kick start. Named the “Courage and Civility Award”, the initiative seeks to recognize and award “leaders who aim high, and who pursue solutions with courage and who always do so with civility.”
“We need unifiers and not vilifiers,” the 57-year-old billionaire said. “We need people who argue hard and act hard for what they believe. But they do that always with civility and never ad hominem attacks. Unfortunately, we live in a world where this is too often not the case. But we do have role models.”
Jones, who is also an author, a CNN contributor and the co-founder of multiple non-profits, expressed his gratitude for the award, saying, “sometimes dreams come true.” Jones also said he was going to give the donated funds to “others who have a similar spirit.”
“You bet on me and I appreciate it,” Jones told Bezos.
“You got people coming out of prisons, you have got people on reservations, you have got people in Appalachia, you have got people at the border, all people,” Jones added.
“This country is unbelievable what people are doing, and how much heart they have and how much love they have. They don’t care about these things we divide over sometime and they need more support. If we can connect them with more resources, it is going to make a big difference.”