Minneapolis nonprofit receives $5 million grant from Amazon's Jeff Bezos

It's one of the recipients of the Amazon founder's $2 billion philanthropic fund.
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A Minneapolis nonprofit has been selected among this year's tranche of organizations fighting to reduce homelessness to qualify for a grant from Amazon's Jeff Bezos.

Bezos' Day One Families Fund has announced $98.5 million-worth of grants will be handed out this year, with St. Stephen's Human Services selected for a $5 million funding boost.

Last year, another Minneapolis housing nonprofit, Simpson Housing Services, received $2.5 million from Bezos' fund.

St. Stephen's Human Services operates two emergency shelters for the homeless in Hennepin County, as well as multiple programs designed to identify those without homes and fast-track them into accommodation.

"We are incredibly grateful to the Day 1 Families Fund," said Annie Wells, Director of Family Programs at St. Stephen’s, said in a statement.

"We believe housing is a basic human right. That’s why we serve families in need, regardless of criminal or rental history, mental health challenges, and/or chemical use — we know that every family deserves a safe place to call home, and this grant will help us make that true for more families in the Twin Cities."

The grant will allow St. Stephen's to help an extra 900 families experiencing homelessness over the next five years, with the money used to take on extra staff to help with re-housing efforts and support services, and provide "flex funds" to help families in emergencies.

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Bezos committed $2 billion to the Day One Fund when he launched it last year, with the money earmarked for organizations that help to reduce homelessness, as well as creating a network of nonprofit preschools in low-income communities.

While Bezos' foundation is helping nonprofits across the country, it should be noted that in its hometown of Seattle, Amazon has lobbied against a business tax hike that would have raised $48 million a year to address the city's spiraling homeless problem.

Some say the city's homelessness problem is partially caused by dominant companies like Amazon and Starbucks inflating the city's housing prices.

His company has also been generating negative headlines this year after it emerged Amazon paid zero federal income tax on $11 billion-worth of pre-tax profits in 2018, which CNBC reports was due to a combination of the Republican tax cut bill of 2017, carryforward losses from unprofitable years, and tax credits for R&D investments.

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