The Gates Foundation has given past and current grants to NPR that total a little over $3 million.
Rafa Rivas/AFP/Getty Images
Bill Gates speaks in November 2006 at the Oviedo University Library in Spain, acknowledging one of many awards given for the charitable work of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Bill Gates speaks in November 2006 at the Oviedo University Library in Spain, acknowledging one of many awards given for the charitable work of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Rafa Rivas/AFP/Getty Images
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is one of the largest charities in the world. Being big means that it can give away a lot of money.
Incidentally: the Gates Foundation has given past and current grants to NPR that total a little over $3 million.
But being big also means that the Gates Foundation has a lot of money to invest. This week, the Los Angeles Times looked into how the foundation invests some of the billions of dollars that are in the portfolio of the world's largest charity, and it found a number of instances — perhaps 41 percent of that portfolio — in which the foundation has invested in companies that have policies that actively undermine the social welfare goals of the foundation.
No one with the Gates Foundation agreed to speak with the Times — or with NPR — to explain their investment policies.
On Wednesday, the foundation said on its Web site that it would review all of its investments to see if they meet the foundation's principles. On Thursday, it replaced that notice with another, which seemed to move away from any promised change.
The latest posting on the Gates Foundation's Web site says that it "does not anticipate any change" in its investment policy, but that, as in the past, it will not invest "if a company's profit model is centrally tied to corporate activity that we find egregious."
Charles Piller was the lead reporter on the series for the Los Angeles Times. He talks with Scott Simon about the investigative series.