Two decades of partnerships
Two decades of partnerships
History of Work
Learn more about where we’ve been to understand where our work is heading.
1997 – Building on the belief that drove their professional careers at Microsoft—that the power of personal computing could provide a link to knowledge and productivity for everyone, everywhere—Bill and Melinda launch the Gates Library Foundation with $200 million to help all U.S. public libraries offer free Internet access.
2000 – We help launch Sound Families, a $40 million, eight-year commitment to address family homelessness in the Puget Sound area in Washington State with the goal of creating 1,500 new transitional housing units linked to a set of social services.
2000 – The William H. Gates Foundation merges with the Gates Learning Foundation to form the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation: our foundation. The William H. Gates Foundation was created after Bill and Melinda read an article about millions of children in poor countries who die from diseases. The Gates Learning Foundation launched to provide college scholarships through the Gates Millennium Scholars program.
2005 – The Early Learning strategy is approved and launches in Washington State, with the goal of ensuring more children are prepared for kindergarten.
2006 – The Department of Early Learning is established, bringing heightened visibility and focus to quality in early learning, and overseeing the state-funded preschool program, child care licensing, and other programs to support parents.
2009 – Along with Building Changes, we team up to launch a 10-year effort to address family homelessness in King, Pierce, and Snohomish Counties.
2010 – We provide funding to help launch the Road Map Project in South Seattle and South King County, a community-driven effort to keep students on track, both in and out of school. The Road Map region is home to seven school districts educating nearly 125,000 students.
2011 – Our Seattle headquarters opens: Designed to inspire and create optimism and hope, the campus is a hub for gatherings of experts from many fields, perspectives, and countries who are dedicated to improving lives here and around the world.
2012 – Washington State voters approve I-1240, allowing the option of high-quality public charter schools for students and families who want to try different ways of teaching and learning in school.
2012 – Our Building Community Philanthropy initiative launches to support Washington’s nonprofit ecosystem in a way that values leadership, equity, and each organization’s capacity to tackle big problems. This work is now led by our partner, Philanthropy Northwest.
2012 – The Gates Foundation Visitor Center (now the Gates Foundation Discovery Center) opens, providing an interactive space to connect visitors to the work of the foundation and help them explore their own solutions to some of the world’s toughest challenges.
2013 – After Washington adopts the Common Core State Standards, Ready WA launches—bringing together a coalition of state and local education agencies, associations, and advocacy organizations working to ensure students are better prepared for college, work and life.
2015 – Lawmakers pass the Early Start Act and the city of Seattle launches the Seattle Preschool Program—expanding access to high-quality, affordable early education for the region’s youngest learners.
2015 – Voters approve Best Starts for Kids, an initiative to put every child and youth in King County on a path toward lifelong success. Many foundation grantees are co-funded by the Best Starts initiative, and we work together with county staff and grantees as partners on those projects.
2016 – An integrated Washington State strategy is approved, incorporating housing stability and community partnerships as key supports for success in education from preschool through college.
2017 – The College Promise Coalition launches, bringing together public and private partners to advocate for affordable, accessible higher education opportunities for Washington students.