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Activities and Programs

Our work begins with Bill and Melinda Gates’ belief that all lives have equal value. We think all people deserve the chance to have healthy, productive lives. Our approach to giving is driven by the foundation’s guiding principles.  

Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett set our overarching grantmaking priorities—such as improving health and reducing extreme poverty in the developing world and improving high school education in the United States. They establish high-level goals for our grantmaking programs. Then our three program teams devise a strategy for meeting these goals. 

We have been developing a grantmaking process that helps us decide how to spend our time, effort, and money so we can accomplish that goal for as many people as possible. This process helps us choose the issues we will work on and the groups to which we will make grants.

We do not pretend that this process is unique to us. We also recognize that we don’t always follow this process to the letter with every grant; in some cases it represents our aspirations as much as reality. Our process is evolving as we get better at choosing strategies, making grants, measuring progress towards impact, and evaluating the results. We are committed to reporting what we are learning at key stages during the grantmaking process.

While our grantmaking procedures may vary slightly, our basic process can be broken into four key stages: develop strategy, make grants, measure progress, and adjust strategy.

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